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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A Capital Day for Hispanics

By Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Songs and prayers were sung in Spanish and Rotunda art highlighted key Hispanic leaders in New Mexico's history.
    Those were some of the acknowledgments of Hispanic contributions during the second annual Hispanic Culture Day at the Roundhouse.
    "The celebration of this day ... implies a vision of the future, our border connection and our deep cultural ties. (It) should be the starting point of a new chapter, written by this generation, by us," said Juan José Bremer, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. Bremer spoke to a joint session of the House and Senate on Tuesday.
    The day-long celebration included exhibits in the Rotunda and a nighttime concert at the Lensic Theater.
    Bremer's speech on U.S.-Mexico relations and how to boost trade between Mexico and New Mexico was among the day's highlights.
    "New Mexico is meant to play an increasing important role in shaping the Mexico-U.S. relationship in the immediate future," Bremer said.
    Since NAFTA was signed, trade between the United States and Mexico has almost tripled, Bremer said. But other border states do more trade with Mexico than New Mexico.
    "Trade between New Mexico and my country is still very low compared with other states," he said.
    Despite low levels of financial trade, Bremer and key Legislative leaders spoke of strong cultural ties.
    "In Mexico, we are ... proud of the achievements of the Hispanic community," he said.
    Noted New Mexico author Rudolfo Anaya of Albuquerque also was on hand in the Senate.
    "You are an ambassador to New Mexico in literature and we want to thank you for that," Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, told Anaya.
    Anaya last year was given by President George Bush a National Medal of Arts award for his numerous books.
    Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, also praised Anaya.
    "It doesn't matter where you come from or who you are. If you persist, you can achieve something," Aragon said.