In recent days, media statewide have touted the end of Fiesta de Santa Fe’s controversial Entrada (“Fiesta drops divisive Entrada pageant,” July 25). Moreover, past and present Santa Fe mayors, the archbishop and a state legislator have praised the secretly negotiated resolution. Perhaps the most tangible result of this widely heralded success is that the Caballeros de Vargas have stepped up to avoid disappointing the community by filling what has been referred to as a “perpetual” time slot reserved for the now-dead Entrada with a “replacement event.”
This announcement begs several questions. Chiefly, how will the replacement event actually differ from the original event? The Caballeros say the replacement event is still a work in progress, so they can give out few details about it.
If we can rely on the information, the replacement event will not include the dead Entrada’s time-honored, historically misleading re-enactment of the reconquest of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas. Instead, it will be a religious procession honoring La Conquistadora, or Our Lady of Peace, if you prefer. But will Don Diego and his soldiers be part of Our Lady’s procession — on horseback, sporting plumed helmets, period doublets and trousers, black hip boots, swords and lances — in short, attired as they used to be for the dead Entrada? If so, the difference between this religious procession and the dead Entrada’s display of bygone military muscle could be slim indeed.
The religious procession retrace the same path and adhere to the same timing as the dead Entrada — down Lincoln Avenue to reach the Plaza at 2 p.m.? After all, the replacement event must apparently fill the time slot reserved for the dead Entrada, even though last year the public wasn’t told that the perpetual time slot had been moved up two hours. And will Our Lady and her companions then occupy the stage so that someone can explain what she’s doing there? Hmm, maybe some sort of mini-re-enactment or brief narrative? I can’t wait.
Who will pay to “shepherd” the religious procession on its path to the heart of the city? During last year’s Entrada, the city reportedly spent $87,000 — 32 percent more than the previous year — for a small army of law-enforcement officers, including SWAT guys, snipers, etc., who provided “police protection.” I’ve seen nothing in the paper about the $87,000 being repaid. In fact, the entire topic seems hidden under de Vargas’ cloak. For example, what fraction of the $87,000 was the Fiesta Council supposed to repay the city for the police protection? Fiesta Council leadership said a couple of years ago that “nearly all of the fees” would be waived by the city, as supposedly set forth in a City Council resolution. Another resolution was said to require such organizations to pay half the costs. The equity of these types of charges is also in doubt. Some organizations have received “discounts,” while others have not.
Another example of City Hall’s inconsistent dispersal of civic funds for such events is that the city annually gives far less to Indian Market — reportedly $3,000 — than it does to Fiesta — reportedly $50,000. If tourist dollars are the metric for the return on investment for such expenditures, how many tourists will attend an event marred by major protests three years running?
Last but not least, if the replacement event actually has erased the fake history, leaving only religiosity, why should taxpayers pay for it? Whatever happened to separation of church and state?
Brian Fishbine, Ph.D., is the executive producer of Veiled Lightning, a documentary film that gives the in-depth backstory for the recent Entrada protests, as told through the lens of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.