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Latino Daily News

Friday May 4, 2012

Mexico-Born Walmart Employee Calls for Resignation of Two Top Execs

Mexico-Born Walmart Employee Calls for Resignation of Two Top Execs

Photo: Mexico-Born U.S. Wal-Mart Employee Calls for Resignation of Two Top Execs

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A Mexican-born employee of Wal-Mart in the United States is leading a petition drive to force the resignations of two top executives of the retail giant, which is accused of bribing authorities in her homeland.

“I’m a Mexican who knows how to fight and I’m never going to let anyone trample on me no matter how rich and powerful they are. I can be poor, but I can also be powerful by speaking and saying ‘that’s enough,’” Venani Luna said Thursday in an interview with Efe.

Born in Tijuana 32 years ago, Luna moved to the United States barely a year ago but she has worked for Wal-Mart in South Gate, California, for the past seven years, where she now is a department manager.

Last week, when the alleged bribery committed by Wal-Mart to secure permits to open new stores in Mexico came to light, Luna felt “so much anger” that she posted on the Web page Change.org a letter demanding the resignation of both the CEO and chairman of the world’s largest retailer.

In just a week, the letter/petition had gathered more than 7,500 signatures and is heading steadily for 10,000, the target that she set to personally take the resignation request to the shareholders meeting Wal-Mart will hold next month.

“I’m seeking justice because we all have to follow the laws, whether you’re in California or in Mexico or in any other country, but just because you’re rich, famous or have power doesn’t mean you can do what you want,” said Luna, defending her resignation demand directed at CEO Mike Duke and Chairman Robson Walton, the son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

The scandal in which the company has become enmeshed erupted on April 21, when The New York Times published a lengthy article in which is said that the giant retailer had known about complaints of “widespread bribery” supposedly exceeding $24 million in Mexico since 2005 but that the practice was covered up by top company executives.

“It makes me sad because they could have invested all those millions they spent in the company, in helping the employees and - for example - not cutting medical insurance,” Luna told Efe.

Luna said that the company “is not taking account of the fact that we are Wal-Mart, we are the ones who are making them rich.”

Although she admitted that “the fight is tough,” Luna said that her faith in miracles gives her strength and that she is proud of the support that her initiative has received.

Wal-Mart, with more than 10,000 stores worldwide, expanded so rapidly in Mexico that 20 percent of its stores are located there and the firm is now the biggest private employer in the country with a total of 209,000 workers.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have begun investigations into the matter, as has the Mexican Attorney General’s Office.