Jose Cuervo Throwing Cinco de Mayo Party in Mexico, Missouri

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The once-obscure holiday marking a 19th century-battle between Mexico and invading French forces is now a regular celebration in the U.S., where party-goers flock to bars for cheap margaritas and tacos. Television beer commercials often show mostly white actors on a beach celebrating.

“The narrative around Cinco de Mayo seems to say, `this day really isn’t yours’,” said Cynthia Duarte, a sociology professor at California Lutheran University.

Tequila company Jose Cuervo is playing off the notion that the holiday is largely overlooked south of the border by throwing a party in a small Missouri town called Mexico. More than 90 percent of people there are white and less than 2.5 percent of Mexican descent. The company is marketing the event on its Facebook page as “Mexico’s First Cinco de Mayo.”

Jose Cuervo said in a statement the idea come from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency, and has been well received on social media.

“Consumers consistently tell us that Cinco de Mayo is a great way for them to reconnect with people they care about and enjoy a few cervezas,” said John Alvarado, vice president of marketing for Corona beer, which is made by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla between the victorious ragtag army of largely Mexican Indian soldiers against the invading French forces of Napoleon III. The day is barely observed in Mexico, but was celebrated in California by Latinos and abolitionists who linked the victory to the fight against slavery.

Jose Luis Santiago, an immigration advocate, said migrant workers in Homestead, Florida, are more likely to celebrate Mexican Mother’s Day on May 10 and leave the Cinco de Mayo drinking and partying to ritzy neighborhoods near downtown Miami and in Miami Beach.

“Maybe we will get together and barbecue, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal for us,” Santiago said.

Associated Press writer Adriana Gomez Licon reported this story in Miami.

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