War on top in Florida. On Wednesday April 26, the American giant Disney filed a complaint against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The company accuses the Republican of being behind a "targeted revenge" campaign against the group. And this, after the tenor of the American hard right decided to end the special status granted to the company in the State of Florida. A major employer in the region with its Disney World theme park in Orlando, the entertainment giant was recently sanctioned by DeSantis for its progressive positions.
The governor, potential candidate for the White House, has made the fight against "Wokism" one of his main battlegrounds: he accuses a group of "elites" of imposing their progressive ideology on a society that refuses it, and undertook to make a rampart there on his lands. Not yet declared for the Republican primary, this 44-year-old conservative carries his fight against Disney as a standard, in his speeches as in his recent autobiography, where the subject occupies an entire chapter.
In its complaint, Walt Disney Parks and Resort accuses Ron DeSantis of orchestrating a veritable "campaign" to carry out "targeted government revenge" against him, to punish him for exercising his "freedom of speech". now threatens Disney's business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights."
The group had drawn the wrath of the governor last year, by denouncing a bill that restricted the teaching of subjects related to sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida elementary schools. Since then, Ron DeSantis in February removed Disney's special status in his state, ending the benefits - administrative facilities, self-management of the site, favorable loans, etc. - which the Disney World theme park had enjoyed since the 1960s.
Following the move, a tourism regulatory board appointed by Ron DeSantis on Wednesday approved the cancellation of a recently signed business deal with the park, which employs 75,000 people and draws 50 million visitors a year. Disney reacted by denouncing in its complaint "a retaliatory measure, manifestly anti-trade and manifestly unconstitutional". The group believes it "has no choice but to pursue this legal action to protect its employees, customers and partners."
In early April, Disney boss Bob Iger publicly accused Ron DeSantis of taking an "anti-trade action" that violated the company's "right to free speech." Disney plans to invest more than $17 billion in Disney World over the next decade, create more than 10,000 jobs and attract even more tourists to Florida, he said.
"Any action to thwart these efforts simply to avenge a position taken by the company seems not only anti-trade, but also anti-Florida," said the boss of the big-eared firm.
The boss of Disney had drawn a parallel with certain positions taken by American companies in favor of the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the 1960s. In his complaint, the group is concerned about new retaliatory measures that Ron DeSantis might take.
In mid-April the governor publicly considered building a "state prison" near Disney World, or a competing amusement park. He also mentioned the idea of setting up additional taxes on the hotels on the site, or road tolls around. "I think the possibilities are endless," he bravadoed at a press conference.
A figure on the populist right in the United States, Ron DeSantis is widely seen as Donald Trump's most serious contender for the Republican primary. His fight against Disney, however, is beginning to generate some criticism on the right. Some Republicans castigate an anti-business fight that goes against the tradition of their usually openly "pro-business" party.