The National Museum of the American Latino continues to garner criticism even though it has not yet opened its doors (nor have they been built). The latest criticism emerged in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month. Twenty prominent figures signed a letter asking representatives Kay Granger and Tom Cole to defund the foundation.
"It paints Hispanics as victims that must air grievances against the United States," the letter reads. "The reality is that the Museum has been set up as a forum to promote a culturally Marxist take of the experiences of Hispanics in the United States."
Last year, the Smithsonian Institution opened its first gallery of the future museum at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Present! A Latino History of the United States promised to tell "U.S. history from the perspectives of the diverse Latinas and Latinos who lived it and live it today."
Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Association for Conservative Principles, Mike González, a researcher at The Heritage Foundation, and Joshua Trevino, from the Texas Public Policy Foundation summarized the exhibition in an opinion piece published in The Hill. "It is, quite frankly, disgraceful," They claim that the posters imply that "Cubans came here seeking economic opportunity, not escaping communist barbarism." Fidel Castro is not even mentioned. In the virtual tour offered by the Smithsonian on its website, only Fulgencio Batista is mentioned and the United States is accused of having contributed "to the violence and corruption that led people to migrate" and of having supported "several dictators," such as Batista and Rafael Trujillo from the Dominican Republic. The text concludes as follows:
Their stories reveal the human cost of immigration and the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy.
Defund before it's too late
The House Appropriations Committee went so far as to temporarily cut off funding for the museum but changed their minds after meeting with Smithsonian leadership. Having described the display as disappointing and offensive, members of the Congressional Hispanic Conference expressed their support after meeting with the institution's secretary:
It is clear, that finally, the message has been heard. The Institution understood the unfortunate and even insulting portrayal the gallery had of our community.
Not everyone is convinced. The signatories of the recent petition - former officials, researchers, activists and businessmen, among others - are asking members of Congress not to be fooled by the Smithsonian leaders, and affirm that the committee that advises them is "controlled by leftist professors and activists."
We strongly believe that it is too risky to proceed with this project at a time when there is a concerted effort by Leftist cultural elites in academia and other educational institutions, including museums, to push an extreme and biased account of U.S. history. In this sense, we think it would be very naïve for Congress to be swayed by any assurances from the Smithsonian’s leadership that they will take action to rectify the Museum’s content.
In their opinion, the only solution is to defund the project approved by Congress in 2020 and do it quickly: "Once the museum is fully established and built, it will be inconceivable for Congress to demand and achieve changes later."