Vicente Serrano, Carlos Tortolero and Carlos Jiménez Macias
By H. Nelson Goodson
September 17, 2014
Chicago, Illinois - On Monday, dozens of people from the Mexican community held a protest in front of the Mexican National Museum of Art in Pilsen. The protesters were demanding transparency of the Mexican government funding provided to the Mexican Consulate in Chicago for helping to promote "El Grito de la Independencia de Mexico" (the Midnight shout of the Mexican Independence celebration on September 16).
A local Chicago radio program "Sin Censura with Vicente Serrano" exposed several recordings in which two Consulate workers, Alfonso Rosas Joule, in charge of Community Organizations for the Consulate and Ricardo Duran, the Consulate Office Coordinator were requesting up to $10,000 of sponsorships for the Grito event this week in behalf of the Consul General. One of the workers even suggested that a receipt would be provided that the business sponsor had given the funding to the Mexican National Museum of Art who hold a non-profit organization status 501(c) (3). But the money would actually go to the Mexican Consulate itself for costs, according to the phone recording.
The Mexican Consulate in Chicago is saying, that the Mexican government has given the authority to Mexican Consulates in the U.S. to raise sponsorships for El Grito event, since not enough funding is provided to them by their government. The protesters, community activists and Vicente Serrano have questioned the legality of asking for sponsorships and say that the Consulate has failed to cite their legal basis or Mexican federal law allowing them to seek extra funding for the Grito event. The protesters have been trying to get the actual funding totals that the Mexican government had allocated the Chicago Consulate, but the General Consul has not released the funding totals for the Grito event.
The Mexican Consulate in Chicago under Consul General Carlos Jiménez Macias created the Fiestas Patrias Committee in March to help the Consulate raise funding for the Grito event. The Committee elected Carlos Tortolero, the director of the Mexican National Museum of Art as its president, which his organization or museum holds the non-profit status.
Serrano on Monday joined the protesters at the museum to demand transparency from Macias and Tortolero. Tortolero sent a 2-page letter to Serrano letting him know that the Fiestas Patrias Committee and the Mexican Consulate are looking into filing a possible lawsuit against Sin Censura with Vicente Serrano radio program and others involved for making false and hurtful accusations, including irresponsible allegations against several Mexican Consulate staff members in Chicago and the Fiestas Patrias Committee.
Serrano in response says, wouldn't it be easier to provide transparency of the costs and funds that were allocated to the Consulate for the Grito event rather than engage in a costly lawsuit in an attempt to censor the Mexican community from learning how much the Consulate has been allocated by the Mexican government or profiting from the Grito event.
For 40 years, La Sociedad Civica Mexicana from Chicago has sponsored the Grito event without any funding from the Consulate to coincide with their annual Mexican Independence Parade and the General Consul would be invited to officially celebrate the Grito event. But Consul General Macias has commercialized the Grito event and is attempting to make it into a profit generating event in which Mexican nationals in Chicago would end up paying for it.
With Macias failure to comply with full transparency as members of the Mexican community demand and today, the Fiestas Patrias Committee is dependent on the Consulate. A lack of full transparency will continue unless the Committee decides to become independent and break away from the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.