Not an exception

Unfortunately, my aunt’s story is not an exception. As such, the many recent widespread accusations against Herbalife and its long history of questionable and secretive business practices are of great concern and should be reviewed by the proper authorities. It is especially disconcerting after reading in a recent New York Times piece about Herbalife’s tainted products and faulty manufacturing processes that the largest segment of the company’s distributors are Latino, representing 60 percent, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. It is even more alarming when you take into account that 60 percent of Herbalife’s distributors drop out after the first year.  

In a jarring and, in my view, questionable development, Herbalife has hired the well-known and -regarded former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, seemingly as a way to combat its tattered reputation the company is earning among Latinos across the country. My sense is that the mayor is not fully apprised of and/or does not completely comprehend the damage that Herbalife and its empty promises has inflicted and continues to inflict on unsuspecting Latinos looking to start a thriving business and end up earning less than minimum wage and in debt. Villaraigosa should seriously reconsider this new endeavor and at the very least have Herbalife come clean on its practices.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of Mana, we share the recent sentiments expressed by our fellow colleagues at the National Consumers League, League of United Latin American Citizens, Hispanic Federation and a handful of Hispanic members of Congress in their own letters to the FTC urging a comprehensive examination of Herbalife. If Herbalife is indeed innocent of these accusations and has nothing to hide, it should welcome the opportunity to let the facts speak for themselves and clear up any misgivings and misperceptions.

To have hope for our future helps us make the day-to-day struggle more tolerable but raising false hope, as I believe Herbalife has done to our community, is deceitful at best and criminal at worst.

Alma Morales Riojas is chief executive of Mana, a National Latina Organization, based in Washington. Mana’s mission is to empower Latinas through leadership development, community service and advocacy.