LATINO HEALTH: Beer Donations Crippling Anti-Alcohol Efforts?
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times reports that the millions of dollars that beer companies donate to Latino groups each year "is generating controversy and has created a dilemma" for these groups, as critics "charge that the funds have hobbled the groups' ability to speak out against what some health experts call a devastating epidemic" among Mexican-American men -- alcohol abuse. "It's blood money," said Arnoldo Torres, executive director of the California Hispanic Healthcare Association. Jane Delgado, president and CEO of the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations, said Latino groups have not effectively lobbied against alcohol abuse. But many Latino groups contend that the beer donations do not influence their public policy and that the funding is badly needed. "We have not been bought off, alcohol is a product that can be consumed responsibly," said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Agustin Maldonado, a San Fernando Valley community activist, said Latino groups should push beer companies to donate even more, much as tobacco firms have been forced to pay large amounts to settle lawsuits. "If you get the funds and help people and are doing good things, why not?" he asked. Joe Fuentes, corporate manager for Coors, said, "Some people say every time we spend a penny we are trying to get something. We are in the business of selling beer. But we are also a member of the community. If we are going to take out of the community, we are also going to give back" (Nazario, 3/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.