In the Texas border town of Kriegsville, Atticus Luna sits on the front line of the US trade and culture war with Mexico, a war articulated by presidential candidate Donald Trump with his call for a ban on Cinco de Mayo and Mexican beers.
I hunker in the trenches with Atty, as he likes to be called, in a booth at Juanita’s Burger Cabana. He orders us two Mexican combination plates, green chile sliders, and local craft beers. A loud sizzling and crackling sound turns our heads as a plate of fajitas is delivered two tables over.
Atty talks about the movement’s goals, “It’s not the restaurant’s fault, we get the local ones and even chains in the state to carry more US and local brews, but they just don’t sell so well next to cheap Mexican imports. Mexican beers cost American jobs – period.”
Atty heads the American Beer Frontier a local group of nativist brewers, many of whom are voicing their support for the Don.
“It’s great that Donald Trump is talking about a ban on both [Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Beers]. If we can educate the public, that’s all we need,” Atty says. ABF typifies other nativist brewer groups who want to ban or put severe duties on Mexican imports: Freedom Fermenters, Citizen Brewers United, and American Heritage Brewers are the more well known to echo Trump’s call to ban Mexican beer outright.
“If we can educate the public,” Atty repeats, “until president Trump enacts the ban, we’ll save a lot of American jobs.”
Within minutes, a chirpy waitress name tagged “Belínda” brings us our chili laden plates and sliders.
Atty keeps talking, “You know people think because we’re Hispanic we’re Mexican, but we’re not the same people, not the same culture.” He pushes a slider on to my plate, “The chili here is the best.” Atty goes on, “We’ve got to stop Mexican beer from invading and taking over our culture and our jobs, Donald Trump is talking to the truth of that.”
Mexican beer or American, diners are going to need a cool companion to the hot chili at Juanita’s Burger Cabana this night.