Iconic Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was known as much for her music as her signature style — a style that included red lipstick, not a red "Make America Great Again" hat — which is why a photo of a Selena statue wearing a cap popularized among supporters of President Donald Trump is prompting outcry among her fans.
The Corpus Christi Crónica, a bilingual Texas newspaper, first posted a picture of the "Mirador de la Flor" Selena sculpture in Corpus Christi wearing a MAGA hat, alongside a story about Latino Republicans last Thursday. The picture was submitted by Joe Michael Perez, the owner of a Trump memorabilia shop in Corpus Christi, who was featured in the story.
In the picture, Perez, who is wearing a Trump shirt, poses next to the Selena statue, which was built in 1997 to honor the singer. Selena was murdered by her assistant and head of her fan club two years beforehand. The picture of the statue comes months after fans commemorated the 25th anniversary of her death.
"Hispanic Republican? Yep, and they're speaking up. Joe Michael Perez places a Donald Trump 'Keep America Great' hat on the Selena Quintanilla statute in downtown Corpus Christi in way to express the symbolic Latino support for President Donald Trump," the caption of Corpus Cristí Crónica's post reads. "As for immigration critics, Joe Michael Perez says 'do it the right way.'"
The post has received thousands of comments on Facebook and hundreds of people have used the "angry" reaction button to denote their displeasure with the article's content and the picture of the Selena statue wearing Trump memorabilia.
"If You want to wear a maga hat go ahead," wrote Reynaldo Morales. "But what the did the statue do to deserve this disrespect."
"what a Disgrace Disrespectful gesture to Our Tejano Queen Selena. Selena was all about Love," commented Jesse Jimenez. "Viva Selena."
"You honestly think Selena would’ve supported a pervert tyrant who treated women less than equals?" added Valerie Garza. "This is a ridiculous and disrespectful display."
"I think he is a disrespectful idiot," Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, told the Houston Chronicle in response to the picture. "Selena was never involved with politics."
Perez, the man pictured alongside the statue, doesn't believe that dressing Selena in a MAGA hat is "disrespectful" as "not all Selena fans are angered by the picture."
"I like Selena and I listen to her music. It’s in my heritage and I respect her as a singer," Perez told NBC News. "The whole purpose of the picture was to deliver a message and the way I did it, it’s a lot better than having someone else go spray paint it. Some may not agree, but we can agree to disagree."
Though the Selena Forever website, a page commemorating the late singer, lists Selena as a "Democrat," the website does not further elaborate on her political affiliation.
While Selena's political leaning may remain unclear, one thing that is certain is that she united fans across the political spectrum, as evinced by former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, recognizing Selena in her book, "American Heroines: The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country." Former President George W. Bush, when he was governor of Texas, recognized Selena's enduring legacy when he declared Selena’s birthday "National Selena Day" in 1995.
Fans have pointed out that the picture of the Selena statue wearing a MAGA hat is at odds with the fact that she never shied away from her Mexican roots. President Trump has vilified Mexicans, calling them "rapists" and "criminals" and building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
"I feel very proud to be Mexican," Selena once said. "I didn’t have the opportunity to learn Spanish when I was a girl, but . . . it’s never too late to get in touch with your roots."
People have altered the "Mirador de la Flor" statue in the past. Before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, someone dressed the Selena statue in a life vest to protect her from the storm and to signal unity, an image that was shared widely on social media.