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U.S. Organizations receive Ohtli Award from Mexican Government

Three U.S. organizations received Mexico's National Ohtli Award on May 6th, 2014 during the annual ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla (better known as Cinco de Mayo) at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C.

Mexico’s Ambassador, the Hon. Eduardo Medina-Mora, presented the three Ohtli Awards to Hispanic Heritage Foundation, represented by Antonio Tijerino, President and Executive Director; to the United We Dream Legislative Office, represented by Julieta Garibay; and to Bismarck Lepe, Founder of Wizeline (an insights and optimization Silicon Valley company designed to help businesses prioritize product development and resources).

A number of U.S. government officials have also received the prestigious Ohtli Award in the past. Among them, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, NAELO President Arturo Vargas; Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, President of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C.; former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, and Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

In Michigan, recipients of the 2013 Ohtli Award include Frank Venegas, Chairman and CEO of Ideal Group; and Alicia Aguirre, PhD, originally from Detroit, MI, and today Mayor of Redwood City, California.

During the ceremony Ambassador Medina-Mora described the significance of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States as “…. A celebration of the cultural contribution that the Mexican and Mexican-American people have made for over 100 years to this country”. “Cinco de Mayo is the symbol of affinity between our two nations”, concluded the Mexican Ambassador.

The Ohtli Award is presented by the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, a branch of Mexico’s Department of Foreign Affairs. It is considered the highest honor granted to distinguished individuals of Mexican or Latino origin residing in other countries.

The Ohtli award consists of a medallion, a silver rosette, and a diploma. Ohtli is a word in Nahuatl (the ancient language of the Aztec people in pre-colonial Mexico), which means “the way”.

The Aztec codices explain how the Mexica people would use the phrase “¡Cualli Ohtli!” (Have a good journey!) to say farewell.