Cindy Carcamo, Orange County Register, March 30, 2010
A downtown celebration honoring Mexico’s bicentennial is sparking a firestorm of protests and angry e-mails after city officials decided to kick off the festivities on the day that marks nine years since the Sept. 11 attacks.
A group of anti-illegal immigration activists picketed last weekend in front of the Mexican consulate and plans another protest Wednesday morning. The group also expects to hold a protest at next week’s City Council meeting.
Santa Ana City Manager Dave Ream said they’ve made the decision to celebrate on that day and don’t see a problem with it.
City officials plan to hold a special memorial to honor the fallen before kicking off celebrations for Mexico’s 200 years of independence.
Moreno contends the Mexican celebration should not be held on that weekend at all. She and Barbara Coe, who heads the California Coalition for Immigration Reform in Huntington Beach, have sent e-mails to several hundred members involved in the movement, calling for the protests.
Mexican diplomat Alejandra Garcia Williams, who recently took the helm as Consul General in Santa Ana, said she doesn’t understand why Moreno and her group would picket her. The city’s decision had already been made when she first took charge late last year, she said.
In Mexico and at other consulates throughout the world, she said, the cry for independence celebration officially kicks off late night Sept. 15 and into Sept. 16.
When told about the date of the Santa Ana event, Garcia Williams said she immediately recognized the sensitive nature of Sept. 11 and asked officials to at least have a minute of silence during the event.
“That day is sensitive also for the Mexican community . . . for the whole world. Mexicans also died in the towers that day,” she said.
Ultimately, she said she didn’t object because she was new in town and wanted to be accommodating.
“But people need to understand that we did not make this decision . . . what I attempted to do was to be accommodating to the traditions of Santa Ana to celebrate on the weekend when everyone can attend.” Garcia Williams said.
Moreno said Garcia Williams should have taken a tougher stance.
“She is the representative of Mexico. She could still go to the . . . City Council and say, ‘You know what? Out of respect to your country, we should have it on the weekend after,’ ” Moreno said. “She should have spoken up.”