The proposal to build the National Latin American Museum arrived Thursday to one of the subcommittees of the House of Representatives with the backing of a bipartisan group and the message that it will be a recognition to the Hispanic community that, according to activist Dolores Huerta, is “under attack”.
For nearly two hours, activists, Hispanic leaders and congressmen defended in the Subcommittee on Natural Resources this initiative, which must be analyzed in hearings in this instance before going to vote in the full House, Democratic majority, and then enter the Senate, controlled by the Republicans, to move to presidential sanction.
For Huertas, who is an icon of the civil rights struggle and participated as a guest in the session, the museum is a necessity, since “our community is under attack from the President” Donald Trump and “other groups” that want to target their members as if they were foreigners.
“We are part of this country, the United States. We are the people who paint the infrastructure, not only with the mines, with the construction, with the railroads, with the agriculture. We have been a base for the development of this country and we have to be recognized for all that we have contributed,” she told the mythical trade unionist to journalists.
Huertas pointed out, recalling U.S. history, that many people think that Hispanics have just arrived, but he warned that they were here long before the country was born, alluding to the territories that originally belonged to Mexico and Spain.
Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Mari Carmen Aponte, also speaker of the day, said building this museum would “crystallize the contributions that Hispanics have made through the centuries”.
“In this moment where this country is so polarized, where there is so much finger-pointing and where we blame ourselves and (it is said that) Hispanics don’t matter or Hispanics are illegitimate or undocumented, or don’t contribute or invade the country, that’s very far from the truth,” Aponte told Efe, who recalled that Hispanics have been here for 300 years.
“We’re still here and we’re not leaving. And that’s the point of the museum: here we are and here we are,” he added.
Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas pointed out that the Smithsonian, which has museums and research centers throughout the country, mainly in Washington, and even in Panama, is the institution that may be in charge of this space dedicated to the Latino contribution.
“With this museum we can teach the positive history of Latinos and also what we are doing now and what we are going to do in the future,” he said.
Cardenas said the bill has been gaining support in the House, while in the Senate it has the backing of Democrat Robert Menendez.
“I hope at this time, although the president is Donald Trump, we are going to advance this bill to the president’s desk and see if he is going to sign it and hopefully yes,” he added.
Congressman Jose Serrano, sponsor of the initiative, confirmed that the sponsors of this proposal in Congress are 219, a group that brings together Democrats and Republicans.
“As 2020 approaches, we are going to see the need for Republicans to get closer to the Hispanic community and this would be an easy project for them to support,” the congressman added.
According to Serrano, it is also important to recognize what Hispanics have given in everyday life.
“People who didn’t write a book, people who didn’t make a film, a movie, people who don’t have a television show, but day by day they go to work (…) and in that way make homeland in this nation,” he concluded.