Vicente Fernandez Boycotted Over Budweiser Contract by Human Rights Group Puente

​Mexican icon, Vicente Fernandez, is getting heat from the Phoenix-based human rights group Puente for accepting a 3-year contract with Budweiser, the leading beer for Hensley & Co., owned by Cindy Hensley McCain, wife of U.S. Senator John McCain.

Some Valley Latinos have been boycotting Budweiser since the passage of Senate Bill 1070, Arizona's controversial immigration law, because of the brew's connection to Arizona's senior senator.

Fernandez, also known by the sobriquet "El Rey" for his dominance of Ranchera-style music, will be performing Friday, June 10 at US Airways Center.

During his performance Puente will organize a protest showing their anger toward Fernandez, who is now financially tied to a product distributed by McCain's wife's company.

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McCain has earned the ire of Arizona Latinos because of his support for SB 1070. Puente organizer Sandra Castro says Fernandez, who is revered in the Latino community, should have nothing to do with a product linked to the McCain family's finances.

Michael Delgado, a PR flack promoting the concert, states the beer company and Fernandez's management are "saddened" by the situation because Budweiser has supported Latino organizations such as Phoenix's Friendly House.

Delgado says he doesn't know exactly why Fernandez chose to be sponsored by the King of Beers.

In Castro's view, Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser's parent company, has hurt the Latino community by financially supporting the McCains.

But Delgado countered that the company hasn't directly funded a Republican candidate, and has no ties to SB 1070 or the Arizona Legislature.

The campaign against Budweiser has been ongoing since the passage of SB 1070. Castro asserts that the protest on Friday is to get Fernandez to break his Budweiser contract.

Delgado forwarded a message from a spokesperson at Anheuser-Busch saying, "While Anheuser-Busch is not involved with [SB 1070]...we are committed to supporting the [Latino] community through programs that focus on education, economic development and the environment." (See full statement below.)

Castro says Puente has talked with Fernandez's management, which told the group that the Ranchero wants to console Arizona's Latino community through song.

But Castro explains that Fernandez's performance won't "make us forget the [anti-immigrant] raids," by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In 2010 Fernandez cancelled his show in Phoenix over the passage of SB 1070. However, this is not enough to appease Puente.

If Fernandez had not inked this deal with Budweiser, Puente's attitude toward his concert might be different, suggests Castro.

Puente's opposition would vanish if Fernandez were to do "a more community-based event" that does not put tax money into the state's coffers.

"If [Fernandez] would do a concert [on a local Indian] reservation, where the State would not get tax money," Puente would support the singer, Castro insists.

Which seems unlikely to happen. So Fernandez fans should anticipate some angry catcalls on Friday as they file by the Puente folks to watch El Rey in action.

Anheuser-Busch's statement:

For more than 100 years, Anheuser-Busch has been a friend and partner of the Latino community. Our partnerships aim to enrich people's lives by supporting organizations that make a difference. In the past two decades alone, grants and contributions in support of the Latino community have totaled more than $64 million.

Year after year, our friends and neighbors in the community tell us that their biggest concern is education. That's why Anheuser-Busch has partnered with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) to provide more than 20,000 scholarships over the years. Since 1982 we are the organization's largest corporate contributor, donating more than $24 million - including $500,000 in 2010 - to HSF, the nation's leading non-profit organization that supports Hispanic higher education.

Our partnership with HSF continues this year. The Vicente Fernández 2011 U.S. tour, presented by Budweiser, kicked off in early May. Budweiser and the Anheuser-Busch Foundation will donate a university scholarship at each of 24 concerts on the 20-city tour, including Arizona. To continue our long tradition of supporting Hispanic education, Anheuser-Busch is donating $100,000 this year to the HSF as part of this special program.

Please know we are committed to making our century-long friendship last another 100 years.

You've voiced some concerns regarding legislation in Arizona, so I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify some matters.

∙ Anheuser-Busch has made no contributions to state candidates in Arizona.

∙ Arizona law prohibits corporations from making campaign contributions to state candidates.

∙  We are not involved in immigration legislation.

While Anheuser-Busch is not involved with the legislation that concerns you, we are committed to supporting the community through programs that focus on education, economic development and the environment. 

In Arizona Anheuser-Busch has provided support to Latino organizations such as the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education; Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Arizona State University Center for Community Development and Civil Rights; Chicanos Por La Causa; East Valley Hispanic Bomberos Assoc. (Los Bomberos); Friendly House; Mujer, Inc.; National Latino Peace Officers Association; and the Tommy Nunez Foundation.

Nationally, A-B has donated $64 million to Latino organizations since 1982. This includes 400 community-based Latino organizations, including Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC).

Our company was founded by immigrants that shared the same dreams as those of today: Freedom. Opportunity. Progress. Thank you for contacting us, and giving us an opportunity to share more about our longtime support.

Sincerely,

Margarita Flores
Vice president of community affairs
Anheuser-Busch

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