'United resistance:' 47th Cinco de Mayo celebration a defiant, educational gathering

Under beautifully clear skies, it was a day of education, celebration and, most of all, united resistance.

For the 47th annual community Cinco de Mayo gala at Bessemer Park, organizers selected as the theme a bold and defiant “Unity through Resistance.”

Just as the Mexican Army successfully overcame stronger French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, organizers said that today’s working people must band together to make a stand against a new enemy.

“‘Unity through Resistance’ reflects the Trump administration coming in,” said Rita J. Martinez, a lead organizer of the event. “We realize that whether we’re Muslim people, Chicano/Mexicano, white people, women — we all have issues with this administration. And to resist, we need to do it all together. That’s the only way we can do it.”

That call to orchestrated defiance was echoed by Denise Torrez, also a member of the organizing committee. “We are working to unite all people to counter the division and hatred that is being perpetuated in our nation,” Torrez said. “It’s been an overwhelming year as far as the issues we are concerned with — immigration reform, education, Standing Rock and Native American issues, health care and so on.”

But, as noted in the skin tone of many of the day’s participants, resistance and a demand for social justice transcend race and culture.

“We’re very unhappy with health care and what has been passed,” said Cheryl Moore, a spokeswoman for Indivisible/Colorado Accountability Coalition. “Because we feel that health care will be taken away from so many people.

“And not only health care, but the essential health benefits. And we’re also worried about this ‘pre-existing conditions’ talk.”

“But we’re more about health care for all,” added Jeri Jensen, another coalition member. “We have many issues that we follow: We really do not like the Trump administration’s deportation process. We don’t believe tax reform should be for corporations.

“We proudly support the Hispanic community and what their needs are — because those are the same needs for our families.”

As an iconic staple of Pueblo’s rich Chicano culture, Friday’s gathering was in many ways a party — overflowing with the sights, sounds and smells that have come to define that culture.

With Mexican flags snapping briskly in an intermittent breeze, attendees were charmed by the dancing talents of Grupos — Xochiti, Omawari, Folklorico del Pueblo — with Spanish vocalists, La Familia Coca, SunRose Ironshell and the Northern Wind Dancers also on the entertainment slate.

There also were guest speakers who, in light of the theme, devotedly spoke about immigration, youth empowerment endeavors, education, foster care, legislative efforts and other issues dear to the heart of the resistance.

Not only was this year’s celebration dedicated to the late Lucia Rivera Aragon, a longtime educator and supporter of Cinco de Mayo celebrations in schools, the city proclaimed May 5 as Dr. Lucia Rivera Aragon Day for her lifetime of achievements.

May 5 was also dedicated by the city in honor of Martinez — the “Matriarca del Cinco de Mayo” — for her tireless efforts in organizing the event over four decades.

jpompia@chieftain.com


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