Vicente Fernandez, a Mexican ranchero singer, angered some in Arizona's Latino community when he decided to not only perform in an anti-immigrant state, but also because he is being sponsored by Budweiser.
Scores of people showed up at US Airways Center Friday evening to show their disdain for the beloved Mexican icon while he performed inside. Demonstrators called Fernandez "vendido," Spanish for "sell-out," and carried signs with the ranchero's image reading "vende pueblo," indicating that he's betrayed the Latino community.
Their anger stems from Fernandez ignoring a national boycott of Arizona over the passage of Senate Bill 1070, as well as Fernandez's financial connection to the King of Beers.
Fernandez recently signed a 3-year contract with Budweiser, which is distributed by Hensley & Co., owned by Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Senator John McCain, a SB 1070 supporter.
Sal Reza, leader of the human rights group Puente, which organized the protest, maintained that the boycott is still in place until Arizona's immigration law is revoked completely.
Reza added that Fernandez is essentially supporting an anti-immigrant law by performing in Arizona. However Fernandez's management said in an e-mail to New Times that the singer does oppose SB 1070, and was asked to perform in the state.
"Our office received many requests for Mr. Fernandez to not abandon the people of Arizona and to perform this year," the statement says.
Fernandez's management also pointed out that they didn't know at the time of the negotiations of the contract that Hensley & Co. is a Budweiser distributor.
"The negotiations began long before the SB 1070 issue and it is highly unlikely that at the time of negotiation that there was any familiarity or knowledge as to the ownership of Budweiser distributors."
But Puente spokeswoman Sandra Castro isn't buying the management's reasoning. If Fernandez really wanted to help the community he would do it in a different way, she says, and avoid doing business with Budweiser.
"The problem is that [Fernandez] is doing business with companies that are hurting the [Latino] community," she explained.