WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump extended on Friday his wishes to those celebrating the Cinco de Mayo holiday, and praised the fighting spirit and patriotism of Mexican-Americans.
Trump issued a statement commemorating the holiday, but the White House did not host a formal Cinco de Mayo celebration, ending a tradition initiated by former President George W. Bush 16 years ago.
Instead, Vice President Mike Pence hosted a Cinco de Mayo reception on Thursday evening.
“My warmest wishes to all those celebrating Cinco de Mayo on this 155th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla,” the president said in the statement, which was issued late on Friday.
The president then went on the give details of the battle in the Mexican city of Puebla where, in 1862, the forces of “General Ignacio Zaragoza’s Mexican forces withstood the French assault on the town of Puebla de Los Angeles, despite being outnumbered and under-equipped.”
“The Battle of Puebla reminds us of the incredible courage and resolve of the Mexican people as they fought for their country and defended their freedom,” Trump said, adding that the historical event “remains an important symbol of Mexican bravery and tenacity.”
Therefore, the president added, on this day, “we commemorate the heroic victory of the Mexican Army over the invading forces of Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla and pay tribute to the proud Mexican heritage it exemplifies.”
“We also honor the Mexican-Americans whose fighting spirit and patriotism have been influential in shaping the character of our great Nation,” he said.
Trump concluded by saying he and his wife Melania hoped “everyone enjoys the festivities” on the holiday, which is celebrated with more enthusiasm in the US than Mexico.
Trump’s statement did not include a specific message for the Hispanic or immigrant communities in the US, whom Pence addressed in his speech on Thursday at the White House reception.
“The president has made the Latino community a priority and we always will,” Pence stressed, adding that Trump believed that “real and positive immigration reform is possible” and that the administration will “show great heart” while dealing with the matter.
The relationship between Trump and the Hispanic community has often been strained after he issued executive orders to speed up deportations, boost the recruitment of border agents and build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Last year, while still vying for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Trump marked Cinco de Mayo by tweeting the message “Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” accompanied by a picture of himself enjoying Mexican food.