McDonald’s case still in progress
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
On January 9, around 175 people representing Protege San Miguel, a group opposed to the opening of a McDonald’s in the historic center, and representatives of McDonald’s (Ricardo Carbajal, external legal representative of the franchise; Paola Castro, coordinator of public relations; and Marco García coordinator of projects) attended a meeting where both parties expressed their opinions about the opening of the restaurant at Canal 16. According to those opposed, McDonald’s is reconsidering opening in the historic center because members of Protege San Miguel made strong legal and philosophical arguments. Some of the members of Protege San Miguel talked to Atención.
Napoleón Negrete, a lawyer for Protege San Miguel, said that the protection of San Miguel de Allende is covered in Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution. According to Negrete, the Law for the Protection and Preservation of San Miguel de Allende was published in 1939. In part this law aims at controlling the placement of advertising in languages other than Spanish and regulates the colors and architectural style of buildings. It also protects San Miguel’s cultural, historical and traditional environment. Negrete also said that in 1896 San Miguel was declared a zone of historic monuments and for that reason the city is under the protection of federal laws aimed at preserving the tangible and intangible heritage of the city. The lawyer remarked that later the Law of Urban Development, which stipulates zoning and land use, was published. It forbids in its article 2 the opening of franchises in the historic center.
Arturo Morales Tirado, another activist and member of the group, commented, “The representatives of McDonald’s liked the peaceful citizens’ opposition to the franchise; they also liked not only our legal arguments but also those going beyond the scope of law and are even considering moving their restaurant outside the historic center.” According to Morales, Ricardo Carbajal said that “the news is that this is apparently legally in our favor, but due to the philosophical arguments, beyond the legal ones, from the group we could consider moving the restaurant.” Morales said that the opening of the restaurant in Centro is illegal and looked upon unfavorably by the population.
“McDonald’s does not meet the requirements of zoning and land use requirements, and if they do not fulfill all the requirements the negotiation becomes an illegal operation,” said Morales. “If they open in the historic center, which is protected by international agreements that go beyond the national laws, then it is clearly illegal. It is illegitimate because UNESCO sets forth four characteristics of a World Heritage site. First, it has to be authentic; McDonald’s is completely inauthentic to this environment. Second, it must be unique; McDonald’s sells a standardized product. Third, it must be unrepeatable. The historic center of the city was formed over time and it cannot be replicated; McDonald’s repeats itself immediately. Finally, it has to be exceptional; McDonald’s is regular, standard, average. The opening of the franchise would contradict not only the spirit of the law but also the spirit of the historic center, and for that reason it is illegitimate. It would be better for them to have 3,000 people in their favor rather than opposed,” he added.
Carmen Baranda said that the group was formed to protect the whole historic center, prevent the opening of franchises and require businesses to respect the regulations. She also said that currently the group has more than 3,000 signatures of people of all ages opposed to the opening of McDonald’s. She added that they are getting more signatures through social networks. She also said that they are still in contact with the representatives of McDonald’s. “We told them that we are very disappointed because the director of public relations for Mexico and Central America did not attend the meeting. Those who came were very gentle, but they could not make decisions. They took the information to their bosses.”
Patricia Pimentel said, “We are not against its location outside the historic center. They could open at the new plaza across from Mega or on Salida a Dolores, and they could also provide more services. Why do they want to open in the historic center if there are other alternatives?” According to Pimentel, calle Canal is very narrow and their supply trucks could not get into the historic center.