Bringing love and poetry into your life and avoiding negative thoughts was the message Mr. Amigo 2015, Itatí Cantoral, gave to the campus community when she appeared during the Charreada last Thursday on the Brownsville campus.
“Get drunk on love and poetry. Walk away from absurd thinking and you can reach success and generate self-confidence,” Cantoral said, reciting a Spanish poem written by her father, the late Mexican composer, Roberto Cantoral. “Plant lilies of peace although there is mud.”
The university honored Cantoral, a Mexican actress, singer and dancer, who is known for her roles in Mexican soap operas, such as “Hasta que el dinero nos separe” (2009). She received a basket with university memorabilia, a bouquet of flowers and an official 2016 Charro Days framed poster.
Each year, Brownsville’s Mr. Amigo Association recognizes a Mexican citizen who promotes goodwill between the United States and Mexico. The title carries the previous year because early in its history, the association used to recognize the honoree in October.
Mariachi Aztlán and Grupo Folklórico Tizatlán de UTRGV performed at the event on stage outside the Student Union.
UTRGV Provost Havidán Rodríguez welcomed the crowd of about 200 and explained the importance of having the Charreada continue the tradition that started at UT Brownsville.
“Our legacy institution, UT Brownsville, has hosted these festivities for many years,” Rodríguez said. “In fact, the campus has been one of the first stops for Mr. Amigo.”
The provost said honoring traditions of our legacy institutions is important, and the university is “proud to be part of this wonderful tradition.”
UTRGV President Guy Bailey also spoke at the celebration.
“Today we celebrate that friendship, those traditions and the strong collaborations we have with Mexico,” Bailey said. “These are exciting times for UTRGV.”
Among the guests at the celebration were Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Brownsville City Commissioner At-Large “A” Cesar De Leon and Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, a former Cameron County judge who was also the official parade marshal at the parades held Friday and Saturday in downtown Brownsville as part of the Charro Days Fiesta that began Feb. 21.
UTB previously hosted a celebration in conjunction with Brownsville’s Charro Days Fiesta where a golf cart parade would start the ceremony welcoming that year’s Mr. Amigo.
However, this year it was more centered on the campus community, said Patricia Montemayor, program coordinator for UTRGV Student Involvement.
“We wanted to do a little bit different with UTRGV,” Montemayor said. “We wanted to involve students and obviously faculty, staff and administration and have one big Charreada. One big party. We think the turnout was really, really well.”
During and after the ceremony for Mr. Amigo, more than 20 student organizations and university departments sold a variety of food, including tamales, elotes and aguas frescas, and hosted activities, including “Meltdown,” a Wipeout-style game, and a grito contest.
“Today we’re selling tamal plates,” said Maria Kaun, president of the International Student Organization. “We’ve been doing pretty good, we are almost done with all of our tamales. Our plan was to sell 100 plates, thinking we’d have some left but apparently we’re not going to have any left.”
The education major said her favorite part of the celebrations included the festive attire and culinary plates.
Throughout the week, Mr. Amigo was also honored at various functions. At the Wall of Fame ceremony last Wednesday in Linear Park, a metal star bearing her name was unveiled. Cantoral also took part in the Grand International Parade last Saturday on East Elizabeth Street.