In The News
LAREDO MORNING TIMES: Abrazo ceremony unites two nations on Laredo international bridge
Laredo Morning Times, February 24, 2020
Abrazo ceremony unites two nations on Laredo international bridge
By Julia Wallace, LMTonline.com / Laredo Morning TimesPublished
Photo: Danny Zaragoza/Laredo Morning Times
For the past four years or so, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo’s shared tradition of meeting in the middle of the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge to abrazar, embrace, has been more than a display of friendship, solidarity and unity. It has been a defense of these shared values in the face of the threat to end them — by closing the border, militarizing the border, building a wall, imposing tariffs.
This year’s International Bridge Ceremony was no different, except that floating beneath the dignitaries on the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge was a small protest: four people in two kayaks holding a banner between them that read #NoBorderWall. The silent protesters let the river carry them slowly downstream, where they paused while people on the bridge noticed, poked each other and pointed.
This took place during a keynote address from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she spoke to the crowds on either side of the bridge.
“I tell people all over the country that this is one of the most patriotic areas in our country. No place can match the celebration given to Martha and George Washington, a tribute to the vision of our founders demonstrated by our young people,” Pelosi said.
This event celebrates the close bonds between the U.S. and Mexico, and it embodies the diversity that strengthens these communities, she said.
“We will continue to work together to strengthen that bond, and it is an unbreakable one in our view,” Pelosi said.
And then, as they do every year, two children from Laredo and two children from Nuevo Laredo met in the middle of the bridge to share abrazos, setting off the ritual for the myriad dignitaries that followed: the mayors of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Pete Saenz and Enrique Rivas Cuellar, and Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina; Pelosi and Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca; U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Nita Lowey and Vicente Gonzaelz and Diputado José Salvador Rosas Quintanilla; U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Martha Bárcena, and on and on.
After the ceremony, Cabeza de Vaca told reporters that those who live on either side of the border understand that they are more than partners and friends; they are family.
“The people present here today sent a clear message of unity and brotherhood that exists between both countries,” he said. “But above all we are working to improve the quality of life for families that inhabit both sides of the border.”