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In San Antonio, why are we celebrating Fiesta!!??


It's true, San Anto is puro-party. Someone somewhere tonight is celebrating something, and I'm invited. But this week, I'm not goin no-where. It's Fiesta!, the biggest ten-day pachangalooza you'll ever see, and frankly, I'm tired of dancing on my grave.

Let me explain.

On April 21, 1836, the Texan rebels - led by General Sam Houston, defeated the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto. It was a massacre. (Sweet revenge for the preceeding Anglo deaths at the Alamo and Goliad).

And of course, there was a woman involved. There is a legend about a Yellow Rose - whom my friend Denise McVea has researched extensively, and it's a wet-dream myth about a mulatta whore in Mexican General Santa Anna's bed seducing and betraying him for the Anglo Texans - and she's discovered the origin of this myth. I've always been repulsed by this story, as have most women...

But it's party-time now, and the past is pasado, right?

Yes. And no. I think, as Carlos Fuentes says, we've won the cultural war. People come from all over the world to sip our margaritas and munch down on our tacos. The City of San Antonio makes zillions of pesos from the cultural value of Fiesta! You think people come miles and miles to see the city's moneyed elite displaying their "royal court" finery?

Please. The women's Marie Antoniette look-alikes cost over $50,000 alone. If you want to see good-looking women, pos aqui 'stamos en $20 sundresses.

Listen, the people come here to eat. And dance. To hang out at the river. To walk downtown and see other people amidst Spanish colonial and Tejano architecture, even if so much of it has been demolished. They come to flirt. Fall in love. Make love if they're lucky.

But where does the money go from celebrating our defeat with our own cultura?

We're getting defeated all over again. Example: Six historic inner-city schools are being closed after the school year ends, and inner-city children will now have to go to much bigger schools miles away from their neighborhoods.

What's my point?

There's no money to support the schools, according to the corporations that advise the San Antonio Independent School District. No money? Whose fault is that? The real estate developers control our city government, and have convinced and connived to get people to buy brand-new shiny suburban homes far away from downtown.

Leaving behind the oldest, largest, re-gentrifiable housing stock in the whole chingon state.

That's why there's no money for the inner-city's property taxes. Or schools. But there will be money for the corporations and developers who want our beautiful, decaying, city. Who want to turn it into a kind of Tacolandia without the people whose tacos, colors, music, and traditions they desire - who won't be invited downtown. Who won't be able to afford to visit their own city.

San Antonio is poor and all that goes with it. The people, my people, are generous, kind, and trusting, believing that their neighborhoods and this city belongs to them. They love our tacos! They love our pinatas! So they must love us - all of us.

Wrong. The Anglo Texans wanted the land, their slaves, their individual property rights. This is the prevailing truth in Texas. It's the reason our air is polluted, that we've built developments even over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, it's the reason we have a quarter of a million prisoners, it's the reason the Gulf is so dirty, it's the reason that we don't have efficient mass transportation in San Antonio and I could go on and on.

And if you don't like it? Pretend everything is ok. I just can't anymore.

We've even lost the right to speak.

In San Antonio, the City Council passed an ordinance last year denying us the right to march in the streets for free. You want to protest the war? It will cost you plenty if you want to take it to the streets. Fiesta! was exempted.

So los tacos won, but la justicia lost. My people are too poor, too uneducated, too vulnerable because of the past. We have no power, except in our culture, so that's where we have to begin to fight back.

Fiesta me molesta.

photo credits: The Anti-Fiesta Protesta, by David Zamora Casas, outdoor installation at the Esperanza Center in San Antonio, Texas

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