Monday, April 23, 2012

Finished Reading Dr. Hayes-Bautista's "Cinco de Mayo"

I just finished reading "El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition," by Dr. Hayes-Bautista of UCLA. It is a good read. It provides some background of the history of Latinos in California as context for the development of Cinco de Mayo as a holiday in California.

Cinco de Mayo was developed in California, though over time it has been picked up by other regions.

Its origins come from the Civil War where Latinos saw fighting the Confederacy and the French invaders of Mexico as part of one common struggle for democracy and against slavery, for the republican form of government and against aristocracy and oligarchy and racism.

In the original Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the 19th century pictures of Lincoln and Juarez were carried in processions. The American flag and Mexican flag were always paraded together as symbolic of the struggle for freedom in both countries.

Hayes-Bautista also explains how the meaning of Cinco de Mayo was lost as subsequent immigrant groups adopted it as a popular holiday but weren't connected to its past tradition in the past when there wasn't a developed body of Latino intellectuals as today.

The concluding paragraph of the book is very interesting as Hayes-Bautista speculates what a future Cinco de Mayo might be like. I quote as follows:

"It is interesting to speculate about what form future celebrations of the holiday might take, should its true origins and heritage become better understood. Naturally, the blatantly commercial aspects will not disappear; by now, virtually no American holiday has escaped some degree of commercialization. But future celebrations might also include California mission-era songs, dances, and costumes; uniformed Civil War reenactments featuring the Native California Cavalry and the unofficial Latino militias; images of Abraham Lincoln, Benito Juarez, and Ignacio Zaragoza; and of course liberal displays of American and Mexican flags side by side. Likewise, there might be uniformed reenactors of the French Intervention, including the Californios and Latino immigrants who traveled to fight for freedom and democracy in Mexico. In addition to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," one might hear Mexican soldiers' songs of the 1860s, such as "Adios, Mama Carlota" or "Batalla del Cinco de Mayo.' It might be fitting as well to remember the Latinos who, in the same spirit, fought for the United States in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and subsequent conflicts. As in the nineteenth century, there might be speeches and pageants recalling these historical events, reminding listeners of the motivating values they share, showing the continuing relevance of those events to modern-day issues."

Such a Cinco de Mayo would have revolutionary impact in Texas. Also, would the Jefferson Davis highway be able to persist in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas with such a historical consciousness amongst the Latinos in those states?
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