Donald Trump’s social media post today marking the Mexican national holiday Cinco de Mayo went viral, sparking the ire of Latino activists and others who found it offensive and pandering. Trump posted a photograph of himself sitting in his office eating a taco bowl and bearing the caption:
“Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”
His post produced many thousands of retweets and jokes, and even inspired the #TacoGate hashtag. Among those who saw no humor in the tweet was Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino pressure group. Shortly after Trump’s tweet appeared, Murguia tweeted that the post was “clueless, offensive and self-promoting.” She added, “Eating a taco or wearing a sombrero doesn’t cut it w/our community in 2016.”
The leftist Latino Victory Fund released a statement saying: “Donald Trump is doubling down on his racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino and anti-Mexican rhetoric.” Former Mexican president Vicente Fox, who has clashed with Trump over the proposal to build a border wall, joked to Fox News that he saw that Trump is “now having some enchiladas and some Mexican food - I hope that he will not get indigestion.” In an interview with Breitbart, however, Fox proved to be diplomatic and offered an apology for his choice of words when he first heard of Trump’s proposal. In the Breitbart interview, Fox invited Trump to visit Mexico to learn about America’s southern neighbor.
Democrats also seized upon the tweet, suggesting it highlighted Trump’s weakness with Latinos. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted out a video — with Spanish subtitles — recounting Trump’s past comments supporting mass deportations of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. For her part, Clinton was in California drumming up support among Latinos and African Americans.
Clinton was not above using Cinco de Mayo to trumpet her message to Latino, presumably Mexican-American, voters. Clinton released a bilingual ad attacking Trump for his proposal to deport all undocumented immigrants, many of whom are Latin American. "He's a risk America can't afford," said the ad declaring that he will institute a deportation force.
Sen. Claire MacCaskill (D-MO) tweeted: “Please Lord tell me what this man believes in ...other than himself. Trump all over the map, changing positions even within one day.” Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said of Trump’s tweet, calling the Republican frontrunner an "anti-woman, anti-Hispanic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant billionaire."
In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a minor official commemoration of the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. In the United States, it has been transformed into a celebration of Mexican culture and food, and beer. According to the Washington Post, the taco bowl – which is an American concoction -- is not available at the Trump Grill. However, in the Trump Cafe in the candidate’s eponymous tower there is a “Taco Fiesta!” available for $13.50.
Some of Trump's critics on Twitter were menacing. One bearing the moniker "windowsblues" asked "So who's gonna assassinate Trump?" The tweet was noted by the Michigan GOP, which tweeted that it exemplies hatred among progressives for Republicans and Trump.
Politicians and celebrities, distillers and bars, restaurants and trinket stores are not the only entities that seek to capitalize on Cinco de Mayo. Some brands pander to prurient tastes, as evidenced by a Tweet from the Trojan brand of prophylactics.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.