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.
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.