LAS MILPAS, RGV – Although two Mexican painters didn’t include in their mural the representative church of a community that fought for more than 40 years to have a public library built in Las Milpas, local residents say they are honored by the new work of art.
Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez acknowledged on Tuesday the work of Eddie Anaya, executive committee member of Valley Interfaith, for the effort of he and his community made to have a public library built as a part of the new South Pharr Development & Research Center.
“It was been 30 years of struggle to see this become a reality,” Anaya told the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM. “It has taken several generations to get to this point. On behalf of our leaders here in Las Milpas and our St. Francis church committee, we are honored.”
Anaya spoke at a dedication ceremony to unveil the new mural, which was painted by artists and brothers José Arturo and Imuris Aram Ramos Pinedo from Zacatecas, Mexico. It depicts people, places, and events of historical significance in Pharr’s history. The mural also celebrates the Mexican and American culture and heritage that is present in border communities such as Pharr.
Maria Grimaldo, a member of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Catholic Church said that she would have liked to see her church in the mural because she still remembers the struggle of her community to see the dream of a public library come true.
Grimaldo says she was the youngest at that time, when she and members of her church started the initiative to have the library built.
“I’m going to turn 70 and it’s been almost 40 years since we came here, I had four of my children in school and we were collecting a lot of money,” recalls Grimaldo.
Marisela Balderas, a leader of Valley Interfaith, said that the church is an icon for Las Milpas and in the struggles of the community.
“We asked for a library here but the previous mayor, instead of building it here, built it in the center of Pharr. So, in the south of Pharr, what we call Las Milpas, there was practically no infrastructure, the streets were not paved,” she said.
“The icon of the south of Pharr is the Cabrini Church and that is because it began there with the late Carmen Anaya, mother of Eddie Anaya and a Valley Interfaith legend, gathering our community together,” Balderas said.
The Ramos Pinedo brothers said they had barely heard that the church had been so involved in the project’s construction.
Both Grimaldo and the Ramos Pineda brothers agreed that it would have been a good idea to have included the church.
“We believe that the community is represented by family values, people are represented in the faces of children, family and Mexican traditions in mariachi and dance,” Imuris Aram Ramos Pinedo said.
“The Pharr church has the same values that we wanted to represent in a symbolic or allegorical way.”
Local residents said the construction of the Las Milpas library would not have happened if current mayor and his slate of candidates had won office. They promised more infrastructure for the south side of Pharr and Valley Interfaith played a big role in improving voter turnout in the area.
Hernandez said that his government has put a lot of interest in projects that have to do with the family.
“When we are talking about streets, projects for parks, infrastructure for the streets, libraries, these affect families in a positive movement. So that has always been our goal,” Hernandez said.
“Today, we join the nation in paying tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. The Rio Grande Valley’s history is founded on rich traditions, culture, and influences of our international neighbor, Mexico. Everywhere you look in our region—from our food to our language, to our music and our dancing—we share a unique connection and bond.”
Hernandez added: “The City of Pharr is especially proud to celebrate the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month with the dedication of this stunning mural – a beautiful depiction of the City of Pharr’s community and our deep connection to the Mexican Culture José and Imuris have done a wonderful job capturing our history and the roots of our community.”
Grimaldo said she could no longer see her children using the library because they are all professionals. “However, my granddaughters are there and my neighbors because I promote this library a lot.”
The Ramos Pinedo brothers are planning to do more murals in Pharr, including one at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. They are among a select few young muralists who paint this traditional technique in Mexico.
At the ceremony the Pharr city authorities also presented a video of a time capsule that will be opened in 2033. The time capsule was presented at this year’s State of the City address and contains notes to future Pharr citizens, City of Pharr relics and memorabilia, and photos and newspaper articles highlighting the 2018 State of the City as well as other newsworthy events from 2018.
“The time capsule, which will be opened in 50 years from now, in 2068, was created to remember Pharr’s past, preserve the present, and to remind future citizens of the city’s rich history,” Mayor Hernandez said. “In 50 years, Pharr will look very different, and I look forward to our future leaders uncovering this treasure we will have left them,” he added.