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Group pushes to 'Take Back Cinco de Mayo'

Alex Gonzalez

(Utah News Connection) A national group says it wants to reclaim the significance of Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of Mexico's victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. 

The win for Mexico secured its rights to its own land, water and culture. 

Olivia Juarez - Public Lands program director for the group GreenLatinos - said, through a "Take Back Cinco de Mayo" campaign, they want people to recognize the holiday as a day of action for cultural and environmental defense. 

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They said it's been "hijacked by corporate interests to sell alcohol and stereotype Mexican culture."

"What we seek to do, by taking back Cinco de Mayo, is to enhance the holiday as a day of action," said Juarez. "To reaffirm our commitment to protect public land, waters and our cultures from those who seek to drill, mine and otherwise destroy our communities."

Juarez said their group wants to emulate the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla to now fight against the climate crisis, which they describe as "the greatest challenge of our lifetime." 

They said people of color across the country, need better access to public lands and calls the lack of "long-term cooling services" - like tree canopies and green, open spaces - an "injustice." 

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Juarez pointed out that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican celebration and should not be inherently associated with all Latinx communities, as it isn't a monolithic group. 

But regardless of where a person was born or their heritage, they said people can come together to celebrate cultural diversity and richness. 

Juarez added that this also means not perpetuating negative stereotypes.

"This is a campaign for everybody," said Juarez. "And that, through standing for environmental liberation, in this case, you're supporting everybody's liberation - not just people of the Mexican community or Latinos."

The group has posted a declaration online for people to sign, in support of reclaiming the significance of the holiday. 

And it has an online 'toolkit' on how to uplift your cultural heritage and defend the environment this coming Cinco de Mayo.