Hotel Owner Forces Latino Employees to Change Names

NM innkeeper forbids speaking Spanish
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2009 2:31 PM CDT
Hotel Owner Forces Latino Employees to Change Names
An Oct. 1, 2009 photo shows the Whitten Inn on Paseo del Pueblo in Taos, N.M.    (AP photo/Melanie Dabovich)

A hotel owner who demands that Latino workers change their names to Anglicized versions and not speak Spanish in his presence is causing a stir in New Mexico. Larry Whitten laid down the law: Martín (mahr-teen) and Marcos are now just Martin and Mark, and employees he considered insubordinate were fired. That didn't fly in liberal Taos, which has a large Hispanic population. "I do feel he's a racist," says a protester, "but he's a racist out of ignorance"

Whitten has turned around more than 20 failing hotels, and he apparently figured Taos’ Paragon Inn would be no different. But he failed to gauge the town’s cultural sensitivity: After he fired several employees hostile to his management style, local groups picketed the newly renamed Whitten Inn. "I came into this landmine of Anglos versus Spanish versus Mexicans versus Indians versus everybody up here. I'm just doing what I've always done," Whitten told the AP.
(Read more New Mexico stories.)

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