Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hispanic community leaders riled by fight title

By Thelma Guerrero

'Cinco de Mayhem' martial arts event labeled 'insensitive'

Hispanic political and community group leaders are up in arms about a Portland mixed-martial arts event that is being promoted as "Cinco de Mayhem."

The leaders say the use of the name is offensive to the Hispanic community and desecrates the May 5 holiday revered by many American-Hispanics of Mexican ancestry.

Jaime Arredondo, the director of Colonia Libertad, a Salem-based housing development for farmworkers, was blunt about his concerns, accusing the Rose Quarter of using the name of a legendary Mexican battle and holiday to make money.

"They're basically implying that Hispanics are all troublemakers and always engaging in brawls, and nothing could be further from the truth," Arredondo said. "I want them to change the name of the event, apologize, and get some diversity training."

Organizers defended the name of the event, which is set to be held May 5, saying they had no plans to issue an apology.

Danielle Pakradooni, the Rose Quarter assistant marketing manager who wrote the press release that was distributed to media outlets, said that her group was merely noting the name of the event.

Actually, the name of the event is Sportfight XIX, said Matt Lindland, the promoter of the mixed-martial arts competition.

On the SportFight Web site,, the event is referred to as "Sportfight XIX -- CINCO DE MAYHEM."

"Hispanics have a strong fighting culture," Lindland said. "I'm talking about in boxing and wrestling and all combative sports."

He said he did not plan to issue an apology.

"I'm sorry they're so sensitive and they're taking it as something that it's not," Lindland said.

Victor Merced, the executive director of the Oregon Housing and Community Services office and the first Hispanic appointed to an executive-level post in state government, said he was stunned by the choice of words.

"This is disgraceful," Merced said.

Gale Castillo, the president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber in Portland, called the Cinco de Mayhem phrase culturally insensitive.

"This is another example of people not having staff who can help them be more culturally competent," Castillo said. "It's absolutely not in good taste. I want to see that headline rewritten."

Eduardo Angulo, the chairman of the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality, accused the Rose Quarter of vilifying Hispanics, calling it a despicable act.

"It shouldn't be just Latinos who are offended by this," Angulo said. "People who benefit from Latinos' strong work ethic should also be angry."

The groups are demanding that the Global Spectrum-managed Rose Quarter rename the event and issue a public apology to Oregon's Hispanic community.


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