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ABC-7 XTRA RECAP: Discussion gets heated over the location of the Mexican American Cultural Center

Last night on ABC-7 Xtra, sparks flew between former city representative and member of the Mexican American Cultural Institute, Lily Limon, and District 3 City Representative Cassandra Hernandez over the proposed location of the Mexican American Cultural Center.

The center is part of 2012’s Quality of Life Bond. When it was first proposed, the city said it would be located in the Abraham Chavez Theater. The Mexican American Cultural Institute was meant to help fund the project, promising to raise $20 million for the center. However, when it became apparent they were not going to meet that goal, the city started looking at other options, proposing the Downtown Library. The reason – the library is more affordable.

But Lily Limon and the Mexican American Cultural Center, or MACI, do not like the proposal, saying the city is going back on its word.

“It’s shocking, it’s not transparent, and it’s not how the city should be conducting business,” Limon said.

Last Thursday, the city held an open house showcasing the plans for the center, but members of MACI and other community groups showed up to protest.

“Members, led by former representative Limon and others, hijacked the community meeting where people were genuinely trying to learn about the cultural center,” City Representative Hernandez said. “That is not good advocacy.”

And one of the biggest points of controversy at the open house – a mariachi band.

“How patronizing it was to have mariachis at this open house,” Limon said. “If they thought mariachis were going to calm these Mexican-Americans, it did nothing more than really upset the people that were present.”

But City Representative Hernandez was quick to respond.

“In 2016, Tommy Gonzalez, our city manager, was able to identify additional funds, $10 million of funding. And under the leadership of Limon, they held a press conference to celebrate that. She invited mariachis to that group. I’ve seen pictures in the El Paso Times.”

The city is scheduled to vote on the proposed plan on Tuesday.

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