ONLY ON ABC-7: Guerrero, Flores discuss the Lincoln Center

Folklorico icon, muralist saddened by plans to tear down the building

EL PASO, Texas - As the protest to protect the Lincoln Recreation Center grew, many of the protesters repeated that it's what's inside -- and what happened inside -- the center that is worth preserving.

Folklorico icon Rosa Guerrero performed there. And muralist Carlos Flores painted several murals specifically for the center.

ABC-7 spoke with both of them about their time in the center.

Flores said the murals came about through a partnership with the city and business organizations in the 1980s.

"They were made with the purpose of giving young people opportunities to express themselves through painting and the arts," Flores told ABC-7 in Spanish.

ABC-7 obtained photos of the murals. "Tribute to Abraham Lincoln," painted in 1984, is on the entryway walls. The 16th president is flanked by the Emancipation Proclamation and a slave with broken bonds.

Flores also painted "Amistad/Friendship." It went up in 1985 and shows various leaders of different backgrounds, from George Washington to Cesar Chavez.

ABC-7 asked Flores how he felt knowing there's a possibility those murals may not be seen by the public again.

"It makes me sad," said Flores. "But not necessarily because they're my murals. But because this was a center where we'd create art. And in El Paso, it's very, very scarce to find a place where people can create, enjoy and receive the arts."

Meanwhile, Guerrero fondly remembers and cherishes the time she spent in the center.

"It just hurts me because it has a lot of history. Why do we destroy history?" Guerrero said.

The folklorico legend held classes in the Lincoln Center for years.

"We danced, rehearsed and performed there," she said, adding, "And from there we went to all kinds of programs all over the city."

Guerrero said she couldn't believe the news that the Texas Department of Transportation was trying to tear down the building and gets irritated when detractors encourage the city to move on.

"Those people don't have any heart," Guerrero said. "If you don't have heart and you don't have tradition, why live? We live for today so that tomorrow can be beautiful for our kids. But they're losing everything that's traditional."

Guerrero said she wished she could be out there with the protesters, but said she has a responsibility to take care of her husband, who's in a wheelchair.

"We should protest," she said. "This is America."

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