How would Trump celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
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Just what do we celebrate on Cinco de Mayo?

It's a mystery to Mexicans, who shoot off their fireworks on Sept. 16. But gringos never fail to confound them.

Cinco de Mayo marks the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. The year before, Mexican President Benito Juárez had suspended international debt payments, and France promptly invaded, an early example of gunboat diplomacy. Though outnumbered, a ragtag Mexican army managed to defeat the crack French troops (back when they had crack troops). But victory was short-lived, since the French soon returned in overwhelming force, and installed Maximilian I as emperor of Mexico.


It's a historical episode Mexico would rather forget. But during the 1980s, it was resurrected by marketers north of the border, who also coined the term "Decade of the Hispanic" without a trace of irony. Since then, this fake fiesta has spread like zombies on "The Walking Dead," becoming an excuse for boozy parties and ethnic slurs. Hardly a Cinco de Mayo goes by without local news anchors sporting sombreros and gorging on guacamole.

All in good fun, you say? Imagine if during Black History Month, someone went on the air dressed like Aunt Jemima and ate fried chicken.

Each year, the White House throws a Cinco de Mayo party, a longstanding tradition that goes back to the halcyon days of President George W. Bush. It's a festive affair in the Rose Garden, with mariachis and margaritas. Invitees include Mexican diplomats, friends and family of Hispanic White House staffers, and lucky members of the Cucaracha Circuit (beltway Hispanics who give themselves awards at black-tie galas.)

A few years ago, I managed to wrangle an invitation, in the hope of impressing someone. Bush was a convivial presence at his parties, passing on the margaritas but singing along with the mariachis. In contrast, President Obama didn't show up until the very end, when he delivered canned remarks beside a silent, stiff-as-cardboard Michelle, awkwardly shook hands behind a rope line, and soon left.

My date was duly dazzled, even though things were to end badly. The same might be said of Obama's relationship with Latinos. At first, he scored by nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, but then went on to deport more of us than all other presidents combined, earning the moniker of "Deporter-in-Chief."

What would the Cinco de Mayo party be like in Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE's White House?

Probably not much fun. There would be no Mexican diplomats, since Trump will invade like the French if they don't pay for a $25 billion wall on the border. Ditto friends and family, since there won't be any White House staffers whose names end in vowels. And prudent Cucarachas would avoid it, fearing a sting operation by The Donald's thuggish deportation force. One margarita too many and you might wake up way south of the border.

This year, Cinco de Mayo should remind us that the presumptive nominee of the Republican party claims that all Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers. Well, not all, since, "Some, I assume, are good people." So most of them? According to the Census, there are nearly 35 million Americans of Mexican descent, 10.9 percent of the U.S. population. Trump never apologized to them for this vicious insult, and instead doubled down on his anti-immigrant rants.

Do the millions of Republicans who voted for him in the primaries agree? Sadly, one would have to assume so.

Trump has also vowed to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants. This would cost us trillions of dollars, create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis by shattering countless hardworking families and plunge this country into a depression that would make the Dust Bowl look like Trump's skating rink in Central Park.

Lately, reporters rarely mention Trump's overt bigotry toward Mexicans and his threat to relaunch "Operation Wetback" (a 1950s government deportation program). I suppose it's no longer news, or they just don't believe he means it. But we should, when we cast our votes in November.

Despite all this, Latinos continue to thrive like never before, making vital, positive and diverse contributions to this country. Thank us for Grammy-winning musicians, Nobel laureates, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Pulitzer Prize authors, gold medal Olympians and killer breakfast tacos.

According to a study by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, Latinos have an annual purchasing power of $1.5 trillion. That ain't cacahuetes, and one out of five new businesses in the U.S. last year were started by Latinos. According to Sol Trujillo, former CEO of companies like Telstra, Orange and U.S. West, Latinos are "powering economic growth in America, both as job creators and as consumers."

For all Americans, that is surely worth celebrating this Cinco de Mayo.

Estrada, a card-carrying Cucaracha, is the editor of LATINO Magazine ( and the author of several novels, including "Welcome to Havana, Señor Hemingway."