In US election year, Trump pinatas take a beating

In a largely Mexican district of downtown Los Angeles, Donald Trump is easy to find.

"He's a popular guy," said Mario Escobar, reaching with a long hook into a crowd of colourful donkeys, footballs and pirates dangling from racks on the ceiling of Navarro Party Supplies, in Los Angeles' pinata district.

He pulled down a pinata in the shape of a miniature, angry-faced man in a business suit and red power tie, his head topped by a distinctive blond pouf.

"There's a lot of people that want to beat Donald Trump," Escobar said with a smile.

Trump, 69, has few friends among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

The billionaire businessman has made building a wall on the US-Mexico border a controversial centerpiece of his campaign. He has called for deportation of the estimated 11 million people living in the US without authorization, 6.5 million of whom are from Mexico.

As Trump's candidacy for the Republican nomination for president thunders on toward seeming inevitability, the anger he has provoked has increasingly, and unusually, found an outlet in the festive walloping of a pinata.

The hollow toy figures made of papier-mache are traditionally filled with sweets and bashed apart at children's birthday parties. Popular designs include Batman and Disney's Frozen princesses.

But Navarro and at least a dozen other pinata shops in downtown Los Angeles report a new, brisk side business in Trump pinatas. Escobar said he sells 20 a week, mostly on the weekend when there are "lots of parties," political and otherwise.

A pinata-maker in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, Dalton Avala Ramirez, is credited with starting the craze, creating the first Trump pinata in June 2015 in the wake of the bombastic billionaire's first comments smearing Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "people who have lots of problems" who also bring drugs and crime into the United States.

Ramirez's design set off a Trump-bashing trend, on both sides of the border.

The Mexican city of Veracruz burned a Trump effigy to kick off its carnival in April, while an Easter Week celebration in Mexico City replaced its traditional Judas effigy with a Trump pinata stuffed with firecrackers.

"We're tired of all the stupid things he says," a resident at the celebration told Al Jazeera's digital platform AJ Plus.

In US border states with large Mexican-American populations, including California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Trump pinatas have become a popular party favour, enjoyed as much for their election-year symbolism as for the treats stuffed inside.

Social media is abuzz with pictures of scowling Trump effigies taking a beating from New York to Los Angeles. Variations depict him wearing Nazi symbols or stowed in a cardboard box stamped "deport."

Even some Republicans have gotten in on the fun, including one in New Mexico who might regret it. The county Republican Party treasurer was fired after he invited dozens of people to take a swing at a homemade Trump pinata wearing a sign labeling Trump a "racist."

And with Trump taking a lead in the race to become the party nominee for November's general election, there is likely more Trump bashing to come.

A round of celebratory abuse was planned for May 5, known as Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of an obscure Mexican battle that has become popular in the US as a celebration of Mexican culture.

"This is our political statement," said restaurateur Francis Rodriguez, who plans a Cinco de Mayo thrashing of a giant Trump pinata - his second - at his restaurant in St Louis in the Midwestern US state of Missouri.

"Donald Trump ... dominates the airwaves. Therefore, the only weapon we have is ridicule," he said in a press release announcing the event.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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