MISSION — As per tradition, the city of Mission kicked off Saturday’s Citrus Fiesta activities with the Mayor’s International Brunch, inviting U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar to be this year’s keynote speaker.
Cuellar, D-Laredo, who is currently running for re-election, used the opportunity before a crowd of Mexican and local officials to criticize President Donald Trump’s attitude toward Mexico, to highlight the bonds between the United States and Mexico, and to point out the Spanish influences throughout the country.
“Why are we here? Because we, as neighbors, we want to get to know each other,” Cuellar said of the event. “We want to make sure that we make that bond between the United States and Mexico stronger.”
He added, “I’ve always said this — when somebody in Washington sees Russia as a friend and Mexico as an enemy, we know the world has been turned upside down.”
But Cuellar said that despite those perspectives held by some, he insisted it was only temporary.
“Regardless of the rhetoric we hear up in Washington, from a different place, it’s only temporary,” he said. “It is only temporary and this is why this bond, a friendship or relationship — whether it’s culture or it’s music or whether it’s trade or tourism — it’s stronger than some of the rhetoric that we have coming from certain places.”
He went on to list examples of how the Spanish culture and the language had made indelible marks on American society, from the names of cities and states to the contributions of Spanish and Mexican people.
State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, was also invited to speak at the event as this year’s grand marshal for the Parade of Oranges.
Hinojosa, a Mission native, praised the city and remarked about how growing up here gave him the strength to serve as a state senator.
During his remarks, Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña recognized the staff from the different city departments for their work and also reviewed what projects the city was working on.
He noted the city’s ongoing efforts to construct an international bridge in the Madero area — a project that faces uncertainty as its presidential permit is set to expire in 2021.
O’Caña also mentioned their plans to hold a bond election, either in November or May 2021, to fund infrastructure and hopefully spur economic growth.
“We could not do it or prosper without all of you being our neighbors, our friends,” O’Caña said.
He thanked those in the citrus industry for their contributions to the Citrus Fiesta festivities and for making Mission “the place to be.”
“And I want to add a future slogan to this community,” O’Caña said, “and that is that we are going to be a gateway to the world.”