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Update: Despite Past Controversies, A Boyle Heights Street Will Be Named For Vicente Fernandez After All

3:10 PM PST on February 16, 2022

    Photo: Julio Enriquez/Flickr

    Update: On February 15th, the Boyle Heights City Council voted to rename a Boyle Heights block for ranchera legend Vicente Fernandez despite recent objections raised by the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council. Citing an outpouring of support from people in the neighborhood, City Councilman Kevin De Leon said, "Today, our city council took the rare action to recognize ‘Chente’ for his cultural contributions by memorializing him at one of our city’s most cherished venues, Mariachi Plaza.... Through his music, he has etched his place in history and on the hearts of fans who will forever cherish him." The renaming had the support of Councilmembers including Mitch O'Farrell and Neighborhood Council Member and Boyle Heights local Carlos Montes.

    The following story was published on Jan. 21, 2022

    Anyone feeling joyful about City Councilman Kevin de Leon’s recent motion to rename a block of Boyle Heights’ Bailey Street for legendary Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez may have broken out the tequila too early.

    At a Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC) meeting last night, de Leon’s proposal was handed an initial rejection, with a letter explaining why the Council would not support the proposal, which will go on to a final vote next week at its general board meeting.

    In a letter, the BHNC cited de Leon’s failure to alert the council of the motion, claiming some members-only became aware of it through media reports. Furthermore, the Council objected to some less-than-cool things Chente had said and done, claiming it would be “inappropriate” to give him that honor in light of a well-documented homophobic comment he’d made in the past, his acknowledged unfaithfulness to his wife, and accusations of inappropriately touching women, as recently as the month of his death.

    The letter goes on to say that the earlier motion from Jose Huizar to rename the same street for Ranchera singer Lucha Reyes was similarly turned down. Wonder what she did?

    In any case, the letter goes on to request that “any memorialization or naming of streets or public squares be for non-living, historic figures who have had tangible and direct ties to the community of Boyle Heights. There are many uncelebrated local heroes that deserve this honor.”

    David Silvas, vice president of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council and Chairperson of the Boyle Heights Planning and Use Committee, helped lead the opposition to the renaming of the street for Chente. Back in November, we spoke with Silvas as he was putting forth his own proposal to memorialize Jewish labor leader Julius Levitt with signage on a new “Julius Levitt Square.

    In an email last night, Silvas told L.A. TACO, "We just had the meeting... the public is very divided - but we decided to not support the street renaming."

    The Council’s full letter is below:

    To: The Office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin DeLeon, 14th District The Los Angeles Department of Transportation

    Regarding: Opposition to the naming of “Vicente Fernando Street” in Boyle Height’s.

    To whom it may concern:

    On Wednesday, January 12, 2022, Los Angeles City Councilemember Kevin De Leon called for the city to rename a Boyle Heights street, east of Mariachi Plaza, after beloved Mexican singer Vicente "Chente'' Fernandez, who died at the age of 81 on Dec. 12.

    De Leon introduced a motion during Thursday's City Council meeting which, if approved, would begin the process of having Bailey Street, from First Street to Pennsylvania Avenue ( in one of the oldest sections of Boyle Heights) changed to "Vicente Fernandez Street.''

    The councilman called Fernandez a "cultural icon'' on Wednesday, adding that his "music and talent impacted generations of Latinos, not only in his native homeland of Mexico, but across the globe.''

    Unfortunately, at no time was this motion discussed with the Boyle Height’s Neighborhood Council, until some members were made aware of this by publication in the media.

    The office of Council District 14 was approached on what outreach was conducted, where at that time, it was disclosed that the properties on Bailey Street ( from First Street to Pennsylvania) were informed of this potential change.

    Most, concerning, however, are some well documented incidents about singer Vicente Fernandez himself. They are as follow:

    1. In 2012, doctors found a cancerous lump on the liver Vicente Fernandez. ““They wanted to put another bastard’s liver on me and I told them ‘I’m not going to sleep with my wife with another man’s liver,’ and I don’t know if he was homosexual or a drug addict,” said the Jalisco-born singer.
    2. In addition, the singer himself confessed to his wife Doña Cuquita that he was unfaithful, this in 2019 during an interview with Mara Patricia Castañeda, where declared that in his past he was a womanizer. “I never walked on my face, so that they would say ‘oh, that Chente, he’s a womanizer’, no, not me. I was not a saint, but they never saw me ” – this was the severe revelation that he made.
    3. There are published incidents of Mr. Fernandez inappropriately touching women. Most recently as December, 2021 – the year and month of his death – it was reported that he had inappropriately touched an unnamed young women. In this instance, it was photographed. “I felt violated, angry with the man and everyone is defending him. I handle my traumas with humor and sarcasm, each one has their defense mechanisms, but I make it feel like it was a bad thing. I don’t care if it’s Vicente Fernández, he shouldn’t have touched my body without my permission, especially in that area. I’m sure many women have experienced the same.”
    4. There was a previous motion made on this street by former Councilmember Jose Huizar to rename it after mariachi singer Lucha Reyes. This also met opposition and the street naming never occurred, but LADOT signage was installed instead.

    In lieu of these concerns, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council does not feel it is appropriate to rename a street within the community after Vicente Fernandez, nor any other civic memorialization.

    Additionally, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council requests that any memorialization or naming of streets or public squares be for non-living, historic figures who have had tangible and direct ties to the community of Boyle Heights. There are many uncelebrated local heroes that deserve this honor.

    Respectfully submitted,

    The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council

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