Maya Martinez, a manager at the Rio Bravo Brewing Company in Albuquerque, N.M., pours a craft beer on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, just days before the brewery was set to unveil a new beer on Cinco de Mayo. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and rhetoric are leaving some Mexican Americans and immigrants feeling at odds with a day they already thought was appropriated by beer and liquor companies, event promoters and local bars. (Russell Contreras/Associated Press)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For years, Yazmin Irazoqui Ruiz saw Cinco de Mayo as a reason to eat tacos and listen to Mexican music.
The 25-year-old Mexican-born medical student left Mexico for the U.S. as a child and celebrates the day to honor a homeland she hardly remembers.
But the Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident said she’s reluctant to take part in Cinco de Mayo festivities this year as President Donald Trump steps up federal immigration enforcement and supporters back his call for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I mean, what is it about? You want to eat our food and listen to our music, but when we need you to defend us, where are you?” Irazoqui Ruiz asked about the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the country.
She isn’t alone. Trump’s immigration policies and rhetoric are leaving some Mexican Americans and immigrants feeling at odds with a holiday they already thought was appropriated by beer and liquor companies, event promoters and bars.
Latino activists and scholars say that ambivalence is bolstered by the hazy history of Cinco de Mayo and by stereotypes exploited by marketers.
The once-obscure holiday marking a 19th century-battle between Mexico and invading French forces is now a regular celebration in the U.S., where party-goers flock to bars for cheap margaritas and tacos. Television beer commercials often show mostly white actors on a beach celebrating.
“The narrative around Cinco de Mayo seems to say, ‘this day really isn’t yours’,” said Cynthia Duarte, a sociology professor at California Lutheran University.
Tequila company Jose Cuervo is playing off the notion that the holiday is largely overlooked south of the border by throwing a party in a small Missouri town called Mexico. More than 90 percent of people there are white and less than 2.5 percent of Mexican descent. The company is marketing the event on its Facebook page as…