President Biden and the First Lady hosted a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon. This relatively minor holiday in Mexico, has become in the United States a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May), commemorates Mexico’s May 5, 1862, victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.
Before Joe and Jill Biden showed up in the Rose Garden, approximately 250 guests, members of the administration, ambassadors, and other dignitaries as well as community leaders had an opportunity to mingle and enjoy the mild spring afternoon under an overcast sky.
They chatted, took selfies and celebrated Cinco de Mayo at the White House over steaj tacos, pork tamales, cerveza, margaritas on the rocks, ceviche, jicama salad and watermelon, churros dipped in chocolate, and other food and drink.
Stand up tables toward the back of the Rose Garen were draped in festive orange, robin egg blue, and lime colors. On the right there was a bar and a table where a chef was mashing avocados for guacamole in a large molcajete.
Ana Navarro seemed to be in a good mood chatting with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. US ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar was seated near the bank of cameras at the front of the lawn.
Jen Psaki, the soon to depart White House press secretary, was cheerful and has been chatting near the Palm Room doors for a while.
President and the First Lady were announced at 4:46pm and emerged from the Oval Office. Someone yelled “We love you Joe.’ Biden responded by saying “I’m glad someone in this crowd loves me.”
Jill Biden briefly recounted the Battle of Puebla as a brief engagement that was not terribly important strategically but which served as an inspiration because a rag tag Mexican army had defeated Napoleon’s foreign legion. She introduced Mexico’s first lady. “We are stronger when we face the challenges of our modern world together. And when we recognize our shared heritage, we can better understand and celebrate the true beauty and diversity of America,” she said.
“The White House, Casa Blanca, is the people’s house, your house, and the story of America is the story of you. The story of all of us. So, thank you for helping us celebrate our nation’s Mexican American heritage today. And happy Cinco de Mayo.”
President Biden briefly walked down from the stage to greet AMLO’s first lady.
He gave shoutouts to cabinet members Haaland and Cardona as well as the ambassador Salazar. “One of the best ambassadors we have anywhere in the world,” said Biden
Biden went off-script to recount a conversation with AMLO himself.
“I told him that today, the United States and Mexico are more than good neighbors. They are genuine, true friends, partners” with “an unshakeable bond, strengthened by mutual respect” and a shared commitment to security.
He boasted of the diversity of his administration and cabinet. No mention that he named Karine Jean-Pierre as press secretary.
He talked about border security but did not mention Title 42 ending later this month. Biden reiterated support for a path to citizenship and for protecting Dreamers. And he called for temporary protected status for farmworkers, “essential workers. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s economically the smart thing to do as well.”
At 5:01, the Bidens, Mexico’s first lady, and Ambassador Salazar walked back into the Oval Office.