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Balboa Park Hosts 32 International Cottages, but Mexico is not one of them

December 4, 2015

BY Estephania Baez

6253045036_73c83635fb_bBalboa Park is one of the most important and emblematic cultural spaces in the United States. With a length of one thousand and two hundred acres, it is also the largest one in size.

The park is devoted to public recreational use and it has a variety of attractions for families to enjoy including museums, theaters, restaurants, stores, and majestic gardens. The park was appointed as a place of historical value at a national level in 1977. The place is managed by the City of San Diego as well as by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Among the most important attractions, there are thirty two houses that host the culture of the country each one represents. These are located to the side of the park, and their main objective is promoting good relationships between countries through educational programs. These houses open their doors at noon and every year, they hold presentations about their origin countries such as traditional dances, dishes, and music festivals, among others. However, despite the fact that Mexico is located very few meters away from the United States, Balboa Park does not have a house for this country at such premises. Therefore, different Latino origin groups have made efforts to have a Mexican house built in Balboa Park.

It was in 1995 when a group of activists in favor of immigrant rights realized that Balboa Park did not have Mexico house; among these activists was Enrique Morones. This group began the task of doing extensive research through which they discovered that there once was a house for Latinos where they had included the country within their program in 1936. The Latin institution disappeared without any apparent reason years later, though. Activists assure that mistreatment on behalf the executives at Balboa Park has been constant; the word “racists” is part of their vocabulary when they refer to la Casa de Relaciones Pacíficas (Peaceful Relationships House), who are the ones in charge of approving the construction of the house.

Although the war has not yet been won, groups of Mexicans came out triumphant from certain battles. In 2003, when the General Committee was formed, Enrique Morones was appointed president and founder and he achieved the removal of various members of the institution through lawsuits held due to their derogatory way of treating others. Being a part of the General Committee was a big step, even though they did not have a formal space, members had the opportunity to discuss issues related to the country, as well as to lead events for the bi-national community and above all, for Mexicans who live in the other side of the border, and suffer from being homesick because they miss those they left behind. “It is shameful to have Mexico fifteen minutes away from Balboa Park and not having a dignified place for those who come across the border, and those who live constantly missing what they left behind in their native country”, stated Enrique during an interview for La Prensa newspaper.

It was just in 2014 when the Peaceful Relationships House announced that as part of the Balboa Park remodeling work, they would expand the grounds in order to host eight more countries including Mexico. However, they informed that they would only be building four houses, and that each country would have to share a space with a different country. Thus the General Committee considered unacceptable that countries such as the Philippines have their own house, while Mexico who has done more for the United States will have to share with another country.

This year, members of the General Committee held a closed door meeting with the City of San Diego Mayor, Kevin Faulconer, where he was informed of this battle that has taken place for decades. Faulconer appeared to be in favor of Mexico as well as the Mexican Community residing in San Diego County. It will be by the end of the year when they will hold a second closed door meeting with the Mayor, where they plan to address the fact that with everything that is going on regarding president candidate Donald Trump, racism has resurfaced in the United States so if Faulconer supports this project, he will be seen as a hero. The initiative of having a Mexico house is supported by a dozen of officials on both sides of the border, including Secretary of Tourism in Baja California, Oscar Escobedo Carignan.
To  support  a  petition  for  Mexico  to  have  a  stand  alone  cottage  at  Balboa  Park  please  visit
tinyurl.com/supportHOM or call 619-269-7865

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