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when the Governor of Florida goes after Mickey


Mickey and his friends aren’t exactly welcome in the Florida sun anymore. Tuesday, April 19, the Republican governor of the state, Ron DeSantis, went to war against the enchanted kingdom of Disney: he asked the state assembly to abolish the privileged status granted in 1967 to Disney World, the amusement park opened a few years later in Orlando. At the time, Orlando was a “small” town with less than 100,000 inhabitants and Florida was rolling out the red carpet to the most famous mouse in the world.

Bring Disney into line

It is not a question of driving Mickey, Florida’s largest private employer with nearly 80,000 employees, out of state borders, but of complicating his life enough to make him fall into line. It is true that Disney reigns supreme, or almost, over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a “special district” of more than 100 km2 exempt from most state regulations.

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However, the object of Ron DeSantis’ sudden wrath is neither economic nor fiscal. Nor is there any question of the “sovereignty” of Florida, a very pro-business state. There are also several hundred of these “special districts”, generally created in the 1970s. However, Ron DeSantis only attacks those established “before 1968”…

Strong opposition to gender laws passed in Florida

What the Republican governor can’t digest is that Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney, spoke out publicly against a recently enacted law prohibiting the teaching of subjects related to sexual orientation or gender identity. at primary school. This law, dubbed by its opponents “Don’t say gay”, is due to come into force in July.

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“We are going to make sure that parents can send their children to school to learn, not to be indoctrinated,” had launched the governor before affixing his signature, on March 28. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the assembly or thrown out of court, and we remain committed to supporting organizations at the state or national level working towards this goal,” retorted Bob Chapek.

Disney had however not reacted publicly during the debates leading to the vote of the law. The company prefers to evoke its parallel universe than to get involved in the harsh reality… But many employees have expressed their anger: if Walt Disney, the founder, was very committed to the right, the employees are imbued with the values ​​of the west coast, where the company was founded in 1923. Their strong reactions prompted Bob Chapek to take a public stand.

Ron DeSantis, clone of Donald Trump

Disney’s new determination is all the more striking as relations have not always been strained with Ron DeSantis. The group had even contributed financially to his campaign in 2018. A campaign yet openly inspired by themes dear to the businessman from Queens: the spots of the aspiring governor showed him teaching his children to make a construction game to erect the wall at the Mexican border…

→ ANALYSIS. Florida, another issue in the US midterm elections

It wasn’t until the pandemic that relations between Disney and Florida began to sour. Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump’s clone more amiable and younger (43 years old), shared the presidential vision of the Covid. He was particularly opposed to wearing a mask, which Disney imposed on Orlando when the park reopened. Before the break, the governor of Florida had enthusiastically engaged in the “culture war” against the Democrats, accused of wanting “destroy the country”. “These are extremely promising themes for Republicanssays Marcus Mauldin, professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.Carriers and very mobilizing for the November mid-term elections. »

But it is very likely that Ron DeSantis is aiming further: many expect the governor to embark on the race for the Republican nomination with a view to the presidential election of 2024. Hunting on the same grounds as the former president, he could be his most serious adversary in the event of the return of the real estate magnate. A victory against Mickey would bode well before facing Donald.

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Florida, another conservative benchmark

Texas is not the only state at the forefront of the conservative fight, Florida has also passed several laws in recent months as part of the “culture war” initiated by the Republicans.

“Stop woke” law: it frames how schools and businesses can approach the subject of racial diversity.

Law “Parents’ rights in education”: it prohibits the teaching of subjects related to sexual orientation or gender identity in primary school. Law taken since by other States of the country.

Law prohibiting abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy, without exception.

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