the timing on Cinco de Mayo celebration

Immigration debate colors today’s holiday
Celebrants say Mexican symbols drawing more attention this year

— reported by the Houston Chronicle


Today’s holiday commemorates Mexico’s 1862 victory over the French in a battle in the Mexican colonial city of Puebla. Many Tejanos fought in that battle, helping to make the holiday more popular in Texas than it is in most of Mexico, outside of Puebla.

And Cinco de Mayo is now one of the busiest days of the year at many Mexican restaurants in Texas. But those on opposing sides of the immigration debate are unlikely to be sharing chips and salsa today, some say.

Illegal immigrants, who staged protests in Houston, Los Angeles and other cities on May 1, angered many with their demands for a clearer path toward citizenship. Images of immigrants marching through American streets waving Mexican flags have also raised the ire of some people, Tijerina said.

“I think at any other time Texans may be more than happy to raise a Mexican flag or to drink a beer under the Mexican flag,” said Tijerina, a historian who has written books about Tejanos including, Tejanos and Texas Under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836. “That flag has recently been raising eyebrows.”

Many Mexican-Americans say they’re feeling heightened pride these days. But when they wear patriotic clothing — the reds, whites and greens of the Mexican flag — they say they’re getting more stares this year, and it’s making some of them uncomfortable.

Houston elementary schoolteacher Genive De Anda said she has worn her red, white and green skirt for the last three years during her school’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

“Today I felt like I was wearing it and people were looking at me a little different,” said De Anda, who noticed the stares when she ate breakfast at a diner on Washington Avenue. “People of our culture, they look at me and they get excited.”


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