Home Architect Home spending bill jeopardizes Smithsonian’s National Latin American Museum

Home spending bill jeopardizes Smithsonian’s National Latin American Museum

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The fate of the Smithsonian’s future National Museum of the American Latino (NMAL), which was to rise on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is uncertain after the House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill on July 19 that prohibits additional federal funding for the institution. The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM), which was approved by Congress alongside NMAL in 2020, will continue to receive taxpayer money.

According The hill, which first broke the news, Republicans have strongly opposed NMAL’s funding after the future institution — for which a site has yet to be selected — mounted its first exhibit, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Molina Family Latino Gallery. Critics claim that “¡Present! A Latino History of the United States,” which is currently on view, focuses solely on the Mexican experience of forced migration in part by U.S. aid from right-wing Latin American governments, leaving out the story of Cubans who fled communist Cuba after 1959. One of the conditions of NMAL’s initial endorsement was that the institution be impartial.

“I do not know who [organized the exhibition], not sure if they are Hispanic, but it really is kind of like a racist portrayal of Hispanics. And also just trying to paint the United States as evil in every way,” said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, a Florida Republican and member of the House Appropriations Committee whose constituency includes a large Cuban population. The hill.

Another committee member, Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Upper Manhattan in New York, disagreed with Díaz-Balart’s position. “The Latin community is not monolithic”, Espaillat writing on Twitter. “We are very diverse and for Republicans to want to drive a stake through the heart of the Smithsonian Museum honoring Latino culture in America is unacceptable.” Espaillat introduced an amendment on July 19 that would restore funding to the museum; it was defeated by 33 votes to 27.

The NMAL’s approval follows decades of grassroots lobbying and was nearly scuttled after Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah opposed it in a unanimous vote on the issue, calling it “divisive” and the NWHM, and arguing that women’s and Latino history should be honored within the confines of existing Smithsonian museums. Jorge Zamanillo was appointed Founding Director of NMAL in February 2022.


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