A complaint for discrimination in Sonora Grill, a restaurant in Mexico City, reopens the debate on racism

Exterior of the Sonora Prime restaurant, on Masaryk street, in Mexico City.
Exterior of the Sonora Prime restaurant, on Masaryk street, in Mexico City.Google Maps

On one side the fair-skinned customers, on the other the dark-skinned ones. That was one of the accusations in a series of anonymous complaints on social networks that were made against a restaurant of the Sonora Grill chain, located in the luxurious neighborhood of Polanco. From an account under the name Terror Restaurantes MX, they published a dozen complaints allegedly from employees and former employees of the place who accused the owners of the site of ill-treatment and of having classist and racist attitudes, such as forcing them to separate their clients according to their color of skin. The business group has rejected the facts in a statement on Tuesday, while the Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination in the city has opened a file to evaluate the complaints.

A first anonymous complaint was enough to reopen the debate on racism in Mexico this week. According to the accusation that went viral, in the branch of this chain located on Presidente Masaryk street, an avenue full of exclusive shops and restaurants, customers are divided into two groups. In an area called Gandi, according to the publication, they place people “who are not Caucasian”. On the other side is the Mousset area, where they sit “purely Caucasian people and the treatment is completely different.” “Even the director of the brand, called Juan Manuel Moreira, gets very upset if they sit down with someone who looks poor or gives the restaurant a bad image according to him.”

After that first complaint came a dozen more anonymous accusations from alleged workers or former employees of the place who report mistreatment, labor abuse and discrimination. “You work much more than 12 hours [al día] entitled to only one meal. “It is the worst place where you can work, here you can find all kinds of abuses.” “There is an indication and full knowledge in the Human Resources department not to hire brown people.” Another accusation goes against the CEO of the chain specializing in grilled meat, Ricardo Añorve, who is blamed: “He does not want short or dark-haired door staff, preferably foreigners, white, thin, pleasing to the eye. ”.

The complaints went viral on both Instagram and Twitter, so the Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination in Mexico City announced Monday that it will open an investigation based on the complaints. “This could translate into various actions such as a public apology, awareness courses for all its personnel, as well as the revision of its regulations, so that it adjusts to the legal principles and standards of human rights in this city,” the agency said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The business group denied the accusations on Tuesday. “At Sonora Grill Group we deny any racist or discriminatory practice. Over 18 years we have developed as a group in which respect, inclusion, service and love for our country prevail.” The company has tried to bury the issue with a statement in which it does not clarify whether it will investigate the complaints or not. And he has sentenced: “We work hard to create an inclusive environment, both for our clients and for our work team.”

The dispute did not stop there. Social networks became a hive of the issue and users reopened a debate that persists in Mexico. The company’s evasive response fueled the anger of workers who began to leak internal company conversations. In some of them, bosses are read threatening to take tips from employees or ask them not to go to the bathroom. “Get used to your body, you can’t be going to the bathroom every so often, and less so during busy times,” says one of the messages. Far from calming down, the issue has fueled the debate on racism and classism in the country.

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