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19/08/02 . n/a . Reuters . Mexico
Mexican Artist Leads Anti-McDonald's Campaign
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's most famous living artist, Francisco Toledo, is leading a campaign to prevent the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in the main square of Oaxaca, a colonial city famous for its superb food.
Toledo and other protesters made their culinary and political point in the picturesque square on Sunday, serving up hundreds of traditional corn tamales to residents and tourists while collecting signatures for a petition against McDonald's.
People shouted "No to junk food" and complained about McDonald's as musicians played and organizers handed out tamales, empanadas and other dishes.
Oaxaca's traditional food is widely seen as the best in Mexico and local specialties include tamales, fried grasshoppers and a spicy chile and chocolate sauce known as mole.
Toledo, a native of Oaxaca, told the La Jornada newspaper that he and others "are protesting and gathering signatures to hand them in to authorities so they can see the people's reaction."
Toledo is principally a painter but also produces sculpture, prints, sketches and photographs. His work is erotic and often described as shamanistic, with animal and human forms merging with each other.
A spokeswoman for Oaxaca's city government said it was studying but had not yet granted a permit for the McDonald's restaurant on the shady square, which boasts several cafes and restaurants and is flanked by an impressive cathedral started in 1553 and finally completed in the 18th century.
Despite Mexico's rich culinary traditions, McDonald's and other U.S. fast food chains are very popular in most major Mexican cities.
A McDonald's spokeswoman declined to comment but said the company would make a statement on the issue later on Monday.