The press conference was called on a perfect June morning to celebrate Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement that the United States would nominate the San Antonio Missions to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. But the event soon took on the feel of a campaign stop.
Standing in front of Mission Concepcion, facing a small bank of cameras and an audience of local dignitaries, Salazar said that he was making the announcement on behalf of President Obama. Behind him stood VIA Chairman Henry Muñoz, a new board member of the National Park Foundation and a prodigious political fundraiser whom sources say will bring in a minimum of $3-$4 million for the president’s reelection campaign.
“This is about an inclusive America,” Salazar said, before mentioning the creation in 2011 of the American Latino Heritage Initiative within the Department of the Interior. When his office studied the register of National Historic Places, he said, they found less than 4 percent of the list commemorated the contributions of women and minorities, including Latinos. “So that tells you our history has not been told in the way it needs to be told.”