A day after the 12th annual Matanza in Belen, New Mexico was put back on track, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement to clarify that it never wanted to see the popular regional cultural event canceled.
The Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce cancelled the 2012 Matanza on Dec. 26 after being told it could only serve pork from a USDA-certified facility if it charged admission to the community pig roast.
“USDA had no intention of shutting down the Matanza,” according to the statement from the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). “Unfortunately, as a result of miscommunication, event organizers decided to cancel the event without contacting us despite several phone conversations between USDA and the VCHCC before their decision was made.
“We are pleased that we were able to further clarify our intentions and are delighted that this year’s Matanza celebration can move forward. We are confident that as a result of our interaction, VCHCC will take extra measures to ensure that the food is handled and prepared safely.”
FSIS Administrator Alfred Almanza got the Hispano chamber to resume work on the 2012 Matanza after giving them assurances the event would not be subject to USDA enforcement action.
Originally scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Belen fairgrounds, the event may get a new date and location. Pigs are butchered and roasted on site at Matanzas, community celebrations dating back to the days when Spaniards ruled the Southwest.