San Antonio.- Two mayors, our own Mayor Julian Castro and Mayor Benjamin Galván of Nuevo Leon accept awards as “Señores Internacionales” from LULAC Council 12 in Laredo over the weekend. The award winners were honored with their wives, Mrs. Erica Castro and Mrs. Martha Alicia Aldapa Galván. (Photo by Lance Aaron).
Castro accepts “2013 Señor Internacional” award
By Lance Aaron and Angela Covo
Just days before presenting his fourth United State of the City address in San Antonio, Mayor Julián Castro traveled to Laredo to participate in the annual League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 12’s “Noche Mexicana: A Presentation of Señor and Señora Internacional,” a veritable Laredo tradition. The event is a musical and joyful celebration of Latin culture and accomplishment at the Laredo Civic Center attended by hundreds every year.
In 1976, Laredo LULAC Council 12 members developed the idea to honor distinguished Latin Americans from the U.S., Mexico, Spain and Latin America at large for their exceptional contributions that help preserve and enhance Latino culture. Since then, they’ve honored dozens of visionaries and dignitaries that truly made a difference and inspired others to lead.
The event typically pays tribute to two accomplished representatives, one from each side of the border, to pay homage to the strong international ties and cultural bridges between Mexico and the U.S.
This year, both Castro and his international counterpart, young 40-year-old Mayor Benjamin Galván of Nuevo Leon in Tamaulipas, Mexico, followed in the footsteps of distinguished and inspirational Latino leaders and role models such as Ricardo Montalban, Raul Velasco, Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), Henry Cisneros, Henry B. Gonzalez and others.
And both men, recognized as strong leaders and visionaries by their peers, accepted LULAC’s prestigious “Señor Internacional” awards in Laredo this past Saturday, Feb. 23.
LULAC commended Castro as a role model of the Latino community in the U.S. for his voter-approved referendum to expand quality Pre-K services to more than 22,000 four-year-olds over the next eight years as well as his selection as the first Hispanic to give keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention among important accomplishments that led to this special honor.
Castro, considered a rising star of the Democratic Party, was accompanied by his wife Erica Castro, chief of Staff Robbie Greenblum, Congressman Henry Cuellar, Texas (C.D. 28) and Cuellar’s special guest, Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Other special guests representing San Antonio were Jill Metcalfe, San Antonio’s Director of Casa San Antonio in Mexico City, as well as La Prensa.
Galván, who received the award for his vision and courage to transform Nuevo Laredo, was also accompanied by his spouse, Martha Alicia Aldapa Galván, who attended the ceremony.
During the evening’s festivities, in an interview with a local television station, our Mayor expressed his deep appreciation for the honor.
“It’s wonderful to be here in Laredo. Laredo is a growing community playing a more and more prominent role in the future of Texas – it’s always great to be here. I’m pleased to be a part of it particularly because this event helps raise scholarship money for bright young people who we want to go to college,” Castro said.
The LULAC event is one of more than 28 events spread over four weeks celebrating President George Washington’s Birthday in Laredo. The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) was chartered in Laredo by the state in 1923, and is probably the only border celebration of the President’s birthday.
The celebration, similar in many ways to our own Fiesta!, is a major event of huge proportions with its own set of traditions including the International Bridge Ceremony, a “welcoming ceremony” between officials from Mexico and the United States where they exchange “abrazos" as a symbol of goodwill between our two nations. More attractions and events have been added over the years – and according to organizers, WBCA attracts more than 400,000 participants to the city. Together with affiliate organizations, like LULAC, the four-week long celebration calendar includes parades, galas and other fundraisers and gives Laredo a huge economic boost that matches the size of the party.
Angela Covo is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. She may be reached at email@example.com.