‘Hands Across the Border’: Brownsville, Matamoros unite for annual show of friendship

BROWNSVILLE — Dignitaries from the United States and Mexico met yesterday at the center of the Gateway International Bridge in a show of friendship during the 31st annual Hands Across the Border.

The guest of honor was the 2017 Mr. Amigo, Pedro Fernández, who has had a long career as a singer and actor.

Children from Brownsville and Matamoros met at the center of the stage to exchange gifts, symbolizing the friendship between their communities.

Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez remarked on Fernández’s ties to the city. Pedro Fernández’s first movie, “La niña de la mochila azul,” was filmed in 1979 in Brownsville.

Martinez also called back to SpaceX’s successful launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket earlier this month at the Kennedy Space Center.

“We recognize that working together, we are able to travel further than every before,” he said.

Political and racial divisions have no place in space exploration, nor within border communities, Martinez said.

“The future belongs to those of us who work together,” he said.

His remarks were followed by a speech from Matamoros Mayor Jesús de la Garza and Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino. U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela presented Fernández with a U.S. flag.

Fernández reflected on crossing the bridge for the first time at age 7.

“If someone had told me that 40 years later I would be standing at this bridge receiving this very important recognition for … my successes, for my movies,” he said in Spanish, “I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Fernández said that his main goal during his career has been to please his fans. He thanked Mr. Amigo Association President Sergio Martinez; the cities’ mayors; Houston-based radio host Raul Brindis, who was in attendance; and his fans.

The crowded cheered raucously as Fernández ended the ceremony by serenading them with accompaniment by the off-stage mariachi band.

Charro Days events will continue today with the Illuminated Night Parade and into Saturday with the Grand International Parade. The Charro Days carnival will run through March 4 at the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center.