Cinco de Mayo banquet honors Latino leaders

Published: Sunday, May 5 2013 12:22 a.m. MDT

Arely Zarate eats a taco outside Centro Civico Mexicano, during its its first annual Cinco de Mayo Zaragoza Awards Banquet.

Whitney Evans

SALT LAKE CITY — Outnumbered Mexican soldiers defeated a powerful French militia during the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.

For many Hispanics, this battle has come to symbolize the victories of the small against the powerful, according to Archie Archuleta, president of the Board of the Utah Coalition of La Raza and Hispanic civil rights advocate.

"You're facing great obstacles, but you can overcome them," he said.

Along with singing, dance performances and authentic Mexican food, Centro Civico Mexicano celebrated Cinco de Mayo by remembering the Battle of Puebla during its first annual Cinco de Mayo Zaragoza Awards Banquet. They honored Robert "Archie" Archuleta, Communidades Unidas and Holy Cross Ministries for their work unifying and empowering the Latino community.

Robert "Archie" Archuleta is a retired elementary school teacher and advocate for Hispanic civil rights. He is also a member of several boards, including the Centro Civico Mexicano, Center for Documentary Arts, Concerned Citizens Committee, Alliance for Unity, Utah Aging Commission and the Enriching Utah Coalition boards.

Midvale-based Communidades Unidas provides affordable health services, language literacy, computer and leadership training services to Latinos.

Holy Cross Ministries offers after-school education, immigration and parish health services. They are social justice oriented, according to Melodía Gutiérrez, secretary for Centro Civico Mexicano, and act as a sanctuary for Latinos who feel like they're being treated unfairly.

Representative Jennifer Seelig attended the banquet and said she enjoyed the camaraderie of the evening.

"It's a community celebration," she said. "Visiting with neighbors, eating great food ... and listening to great entertainment and learning about history."

Centro Civico Mexicano offers educational, cultural, social and athletic services to the Hispanic community in the Salt Lake Valley. It is the oldest nonprofit Hispanic organization in Utah and is not politically, religiously or otherwise affiliated.

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