New attack on US Hispanic heritage

Hispanic Council

In recent days there has been a new attack on the Hispanic heritage of the United States, this time in San Diego (California). Councilman Joe LaCava has introduced a proposal to remove the symbols referring to Spain from the city’s coat of arms. According to LaCava, “the current coat of arms erases the history of the indigenous people who occupied this land long before us and glorifies those who stole it”.

San Diego is a city of about 1.5 million people today with a strong Hispanic heritage going back several centuries. Both the coat of arms and the flag reflect this heritage. The coat of arms features the names of the city, the state, and the official motto of San Diego: “semper vigilans”, which means always vigilant in Latin. It also includes three very characteristic elements: the caravel, which refers to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1542; the bell, in reference to the mission founded by Fray Junípero Serra, which was the origin of the city; and finally, the columns of Hercules, which recall the ancient territorial jurisdiction of Spain. Tomorrow, 15 April, marks 107 years since the adoption of the coat of arms.

The mission of San Diego de Alcalá was founded in 1769 by Fray Junípero Serra and was the origin of the current city of San Diego. However, as its symbols explain, the Spanish presence goes back even further, as the first European ship to make landfall on the West Coast of what is now the United States was that of the expedition led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo.

Apart from the coat of arms, the flag of San Diego has the colours red and yellow, which were chosen in reference to Spain. It also includes a reference to “1542”, the year explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first entered San Diego Bay.

This is yet another example of how Hispanic cultural heritage is under attack in the United States in recent times. The Hispanic Council will continue to work to disseminate the Hispanic cultural heritage of the United States and to prevent its distortion and manipulation.


This post was translated from:

(2021) ‘Nuevo ataque contra el legado hispano en EEUU’, Hispanic Council, 14 April. Available at: (Accessed: 14 April 2021).

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1511 Royal decree of Fernando, the Catholic King, creating the Audiencia (Court) of Santo Domingo, the first in the New World.
1550 Pedro de Valdivia founds the town of Concepción del Nuevo Extremo (Chile) in the viceroyalty of Peru.
1581 Spaniard Gonzalo Ronquillo founds the town of Iloilo (Philippines).
1582 The Gregorian calendar was introduced in Spain, replacing the Julian calendar. As a result, the days between 5 and 14 October 1582 never existed!
1713 Denis Diderot, French encyclopaedist, is born.
1762 The British take Manila in the Pacific War against Spain.
1827 Capitulation of the Malcontents thanks to the action of the Count of Spain. On 7 November, the ringleaders Rafi Vidal and Olivas are shot.
1864 Louis Lumiére, one of the fathers of the cinematograph, is born.
1889 The town of Iloilo (Philippines) obtains the title of city, granted by Queen Mª Cristina de Habsburg.

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