By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
This Cinco de Mayo, Mexico will be celebrating the 150th anniversary since the famous battle of Puebla, where the Mexican army defeated the French.
Although many people in San Diego spend this day drinking and partying, muralist Victor Ochoa prefers to commemorate the tenacity, hard-work of the Mexican people.
“Cinco de Mayo isn’t something that took place 150 years ago,” said Ochoa, who’s one of most recognized artists in San Diego. “It’s not only a historical event that’s long gone. For me, Cinco de Mayo represents a continuous fight from Mexicans of Indigenous descent against oppression and abuse and discrimination from Europeans.”
This Saturday Ochoa and other artists will present and dedicate the Mexican Revolution Mural after its restoration and update in Chicano Park. The event, which starts at 11 a.m., is in recognition of the life’s work of Ernesto Bustillos, a long-time activist in the area.
“You can come and learn of the history, the inspiration of this mural, as well as the process for restoring the mural and the historical significance to our people’s movement for self-determination,” Ochoa said.
How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? If you’re a Mexican immigrant, perhaps you remember the salute to the flag that takes place at schools on this day.
If you’re not Mexican, maybe you try to figure out why this date is important in Mexican history.
Without a doubt, Cinco de Mayo has become the biggest celebration of Mexican culture in this country. In San Diego County, for example, there are more public events, like festivals, that celebrate the Battle of Puebla, than in Tijuana.
But remember, Cinco de Mayo is not a excuse to go get drunk. Some Latino organizations, in fact, object to using the day as an excuse to get drunk. The truth is that it’s U.S. restaurants and bars that have turned this day into a drinking fest amid strains of Mexican music.
As with most things, you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your family, without alcohol or margaritas.
But if you drink, please don’t drive. Law enforcement will be hard at work catching drunk drivers. The National City Police Department will be conducting DUI/Drivers licence checkpoint at an undisclosed location within the city limits between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Cinco de Mayo.
“Deaths from drunk and drug-impaired driving are going down in California,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). “But that still means that hundreds of our friends, family and co-workers are killed each year, along with tens of thousands who are seriously injured. We must all continue to work together to bring an end to these tragedies. If you see a Drunk Driver – Call 9-1-1.”
Whichever way you celebrate, remind your friends that Cinco de Mayo most decidedly is not Mexico’s Independence Day!
Below is a sampling of the events that celebrate the day the legendary army of Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops in 1862.
The Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo will be from Friday 4 through Sunday 6. There will be mariachis, Aztec danzers, and children’s area. Free.
The Cinco de Mayo Latin Rock Festival takes place at the Valley View Casino Center, formerly Sports Arena, on Friday. Bands include Inspector, Plastilina Mosh, and 3Ball MTY. $30 to $100. More information: www.valleyviewcasinocenter.com.
The Centro Cultural de la Raza, in Balboa Park, will have a Fiesta Danzantes on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
The City of Chula Vista will host its annual Cinco de Mayo Festival on Third Ave. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Free. More information: 619-422-1982.
Univision Radio stations Recuerdo and La Nueva will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with El Reventon at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Sunday. Performers include La Adictiva Banda San Jose de Mesillas, Chuy Lizárraga, Montéz de Durago, Tierra Cali, Auténtica Banda Jerez. $10. More information: You can win free passes listening to Recuerdo and LaNueva.