President Donald Trump will not be hostingat the White House this year, breaking with a tradition President George W. Bush initiated 16 years ago.
He'll be spending the holiday on Friday at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey instead.
In lieu of a celebration hosted by the President, Vice President Mike Pence hosted an intimate get-together on Thursday in the Indian Treaty Room, where he spoke glowingly of Mexico and Mexican-Americans. However, at least two major Hispanic groups were skeptical of his claims that President Trump has prioritized the Latino community.
"That the Cinco de Mayo reception has been kicked out of the White House and that the President will not even be attending the Plan B event at the EEOB is not the least bit surprising to us,"President and CEO Janet Murguía said in a statement. "But it is a pretty on the money symbol of where Latinos stand with this administration."
Félix Sánchez, the president and co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, told La Opinion that Mr. Trump's abstention from the tradition was "another slap in the face" for Latinos.
Attendees of Thursday's makeshift celebration, including the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., Gerónimo Gutierrez, and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, munched on chicken tostadas, tuna empanadas, veggie skewers, and churros and sipped on wine and beer. The Jorge Anaya Trio later performed for the crowd.
Last year, then candidate Trump celebrated Cinco de Mayo rather characteristically: through social media and with a dash of self-promotion.
A photo of Mr. Trump posted on Twitter and Facebook, holding a fork over a taco bowl with one hand and flashing a thumbs up with the other in his Trump tower office, went viral. However, the accompanying sentiment -- "I love Hispanics!" -- fell flat during a campaign built on a promise tothat Mexico would pay for.
The relationship between Mr. Trump and the Latino community, marred by anti-immigrant rhetoric and the implementation of his plan to deport some undocumented immigrations, has since worsened.
"True friendship, they say, must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity to be worthy of its name," Ambassador Gutierrez said during the event, alluding to these tensions. "May this Cinco de Mayo remind us all, as Presidents Benito Juarez and Abraham Lincoln foresaw, that strong and successful Mexico is in the interest of the United States, as much as a strong and successful United States is in the interest of Mexico."
President Obama hosted a Cinco de Mayo celebration every year during his time in office.
"So this holiday is an opportunity to remember how deeply Mexican-American culture is woven into the fabric of this country," he said during the celebration in 2015.
"People of Mexican heritage and their children, and their children's children have influenced our commerce and our culture, and our language and our literature, our faith and our food. Like so many immigrant groups in this country, Mexican-Americans have kept us young and dynamic and energetic as a people."