Washington – The Latino community soon will have its own historical memorial in the United States in the form of a museum in the Smithsonian complex in Washington, thanks to the bill being sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Other U.S. communities have already received their own sections of the great museum complex in the nation's capital, including the Native Americans and African Americans, and now it's the Latinos' turn.
"When we come to the national museums here in Washington, we don't see ... our contribution as a community in this country, which precedes the creation of the nation, has a long history and participates in all sectors of our society," said Menendez in an interview with Efe.
Thanks to a bipartisan agreement, the project is already under way and it is expected that before the end of the year a building not currently in use within the museum complex will be designated as the site of the new facility.
"What we want to do is designate one of the buildings ... within the Smithsonian, which is (not in use), for the Latino Museum. That designation is fundamental to being able to move its creation forward," the senator explained.
The bipartisan support for making the project a reality has also emerged in the House of Representatives, where it has the backing of Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Xavier Becerra of California.
Once the designation of the building where it will be housed is made, Menendez added, the Smithsonian will perform a joint study with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to establish what the museum will include, because an expansion of the complex is anticipated.
"After this first step, we will evaluate how much it's going to cost and we'll begin the process of finding the necessary funds, because there has been a lot of interest from the private sector, although it will have public contributions," too, the senator added.
Menendez estimates that the American Latino Museum will need between five and eight years to become a reality, but he said that the Latino community has come to a point of maturity in U.S. society where it now needs to be able to tell its story.
"We're looking for the legislative route that can include the law to designate the building and for President (Barack) Obama to be able to sign it. I'm sure that the president supports it," he said.
That is the difference between having Latino members of Congress who support this type of measure, and not having them, Menendez said, adding that the exponential increase in the Latino community has acquired the influence whereby the need to tell its history is commonly understood.