Howard Schultz, the CEO of the Starbucks chain, issues a letter to all employees after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens of seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States. Citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are currently banned from entering the US. Schultz wrote, “We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question.”
 
Schultz continued, “These uncertain times call for different measures and communication tools than we have used in the past. Kevin and I are going to accelerate our commitment to communicating with you more frequently, including leveraging new technology platforms moving forward. I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack, and want to use a faster, more immediate form of communication to engage with you on matters that concern us all as partners.”
 
Other prominent CEO are piling on. Among them are Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Another is Sergey Brin of Google, who joined in a protest against Trump’s executive action. Airbnb has announced that it will offer free housing to refugees.
 
In his letter to employees, Schultz announced Starbuck’s plans to hire 10,000 refugees. “We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world. This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination,” Schultz wrote.
 
“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.”
 
Following reports of calls in Mexico for boycotts of US companies, “We have been open for business in Mexico since 2002, and have since opened 600 stores in 60 cities across the country, which together employ over 7,000 Mexican partners who proudly wear the green apron. We have sourced coffee from Mexico’s producers and their families for three decades and last fall, we also announced the creation of a farmer support center in Chiapas to help accelerate our collective ability to grow and export some of the world’s finest coffees from this important growing region, while donating more than $2 million to support the livelihood, food security and water quality of coffee producing communities in Oaxaca.” 
 
Schultz added, “With the support of thousands of Starbucks partners and millions of customers, we have also donated half a million coffee trees to support 70,000 families, and we will be expanding the initiative this year to generate another 4 million tree donations. Coffee is what unites our common heritage, and as I told Alberto Torrado, the leader of our partnership with Alsea in Mexico, we stand ready to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families as they navigate what impact proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes might have on their business and their trust of Americans. But we will continue to invest in this critically important market all the same.”


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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