Chamber Chat – Hispanic Heritage Month

October 03, 2021 | Written by: sanford-user

people getting food from a food truck


By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

In an effort to support diversity, equity and inclusion in our community, I wanted to make you aware that this is the Hispanic Heritage Month. It runs from September 15 through October 15th.

Why September 15th to October 15th?

September 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th mark a number of ceremonious days for many Central Americans. On September 15, 1821, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua won independence from Spain. In Mexico, September 16, 1810 marks the start of the Mexican War of Independence and the country’s Independence Day, and two days later on September 18, 1810, Chile’s people proclaimed independence from Spain — denoting Independence Day and starting the Chilean War. While Hispanic Heritage Month may officially end on October 15th, celebrating and elevating underrepresented voices should be a continued priority within any organization.

Just this week, I spoke with the owner of the local Tacos El Primo restaurant, which also manages three food trucks. Telesforo Aguirre, best known as “Primo” was raised in Guerrero, Mexico and came to the United States each summer while he was in his teens to work as a field worker, picking strawberries and tomatoes. The money he earned was to pay for his college education, which he completed in Mexico. Aguirre then went on to complete two years of law school in Mexico, continuing to work in the United States during the summer months.

Aguirre had to make a decision regarding what would be best for he and his fiancé at the time (now his wife and mother of their four adult children). One day “it just hit me” he said, “I had to decide between my law degree in Mexico or go to the US with my wife and start a family there, where I saw more opportunity.”

Primo came to the US permanently in 1987. In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, a piece of legislation granting legal status to undocumented immigrants in the United States. Primo was able to apply for, and obtain residency.

He immediately began back working in the produce fields, but soon thereafter, he began a job at a Four Seasons Hotel in California as a dishwasher. Within a week, he had been promoted to a supervisor. His work ethic paid off, and three months later, he was promoted to assistant manager of the hotel. That’s when he learned about food, banquets, parties…everything from the kitchen, to the venue. “That’s where I learned kitchen policies and started working with health inspectors and learning the food and hospitality business.”

After four years at the Four Seasons, he was recruited to work at a Beverly Hills Hotel, “but that traffic was insane.” That’s when his family came to Sanford and started the food truck business in 1995, and opened the Tacos El Primo restaurant in 1997.

“It’s not easy” said Primo, “it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s time consuming, but worth it. I didn’t have a lot of time at home with my kids while I was building up Tacos El Primo, which is why I now live for my grandchildren – Aaron, Jullianna, Leo, Emilia and Mila.”

Primos’s daughter, Brenda Aguirre translated this conversation between Primo and I. She joked with me that “I didn’t even know some of these stories about my dad!” Brenda works as the General Manager of the Tacos El Primo restaurant, and is the Event Coordinator for the three food trucks. “It’s a family business.”

In June 1968, George E. Brown, a California Congressman, introduced House Joint Resolution 1299 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Week starting September 15th. In 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, Senator Paul Simon introduced S. 2200 to update the celebration to the month-long celebration we know today. His bill emphasized the need that “the Nation be educated and made aware of the richness and the significance of the contributions of Hispanics to our society.” He further noted that Hispanic American people are “not just a significant part of our Nation’s origin; they are essential to America’s future.”