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In the midst of Fiesta! Media Fever, they miss the first story of protest

brenaudgonzalezs Icon Posted by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

April 24th, 2008

It’s a multi-million ten-day fiestavagranza with a royal court, a parade on the San Antonio River, more parades, a carnival, musical stages and more and more than that. It’s San Antonio’s Fiesta! and a one-hundred and ten year-old tradition and yearly anticipated baccanalia. City government and the schools shut down today and went downtown to celebrate, many with old memories of Fiesta!, as delicious as the plates of gorditas, tripas, aguas frescas, margaritas, etc. etc. etc.

But not everyone loves Fiesta! In this party-loving city, the Esperanza Center, led by director Graciela Sanchez - with her own reality-based memories of Fiestas-past, has launched what may be the first serious artistic protest.

She’s commissioned the artist David Zamora Casas, who lives and breathes San Antonio onto his canvas, body, and public art, to protest the Fiesta! colors that eternally decorate the Esperanza Center - an outdoor installation of colored ribbons that Casas wrapped around the treetrunks in front of the building - now copied and acquired by the Fiesta! visionaries, according to Sanchez.

Now the Esperanza Center is beribboned in black. Black ribbons stream from the pinata hanging from the glass door. Black ribbons overlap the Mexican riot of colors adorning the trees. And black and hot-pink ribbon-flowers make a totally new statement about the appropriation of the city’s cultural heritage.

Fiesta! began as a celebration of the defeat of the Mexicans by the Anglo Texans at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. And though Mexicans/latin@s/Chican@s etc. constitute the majority of the city’s population, they only hold token power in the city. The population is largely poor and uneducated.

When the “Royal Court” princesses look down from their Fiesta! parade float and see the largely Brown, poor, and sold-out crowd cheering them on, they lift up their $50,000 dresses and show them their tennis shoes.

The crowd goes wild.

Sanchez can’t get the media to pay attention to what she’s saying. The local newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News, is consumed by Fiesta!, trumpeting the celebration every day for the duration.

There is never any opposing view or story. Never. On television, on the public radio station, nowhere. Nada.

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