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Mr. Amigo 2007” Angelica Vale

Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz

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Madam Speaker, I wish today to commend the 2007 ``Mr. Amigo,'' Angelica Vale, chosen recently by the Mr. Amigo Association of Brownsville, TX, and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in Mexico. Ms. Vale has achieved popularity on both sides of the border for her television, film, and theater work.

The Mr. Amigo Award began in 1964 as an annual tribute to an outstanding Mexican citizen who has made a lasting contribution during the previous year to international solidarity and goodwill. ``Mr. Amigo'' acts as an ambassador between our two countries and presides over the annual Charro Days festival.

The Charro Days festival, held in Brownsville and Matamoros, is an opportunity to enjoy the unique border culture of the Rio Grande Valley area. A Lenten event, much like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the festival was organized in 1937 by the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce to recognize Mexican culture and was named in honor of the charros, ``dashing Mexican gentlemen cowboys.'' The festival includes parades complete with floats, as well as street dances, a rodeo, mariachi and marimba concerts, and ballet folklorico performances by school students.

This year's Charro Days festivities will be held February 28 through March 2 and will include appearances by Ms. Vale. An actress since a child, Ms. Vale has received acclaim for her roles in films and television shows. She recently starred in the Mexican show La Fea Mas Bella, which inspired the popular American show, Ugly Betty. She has also been named one of People En Espanol's ``50 Most Beautiful Women.''

This is the second time in the history of the Mr. Amigo Award that a parent and child have received such recognition. Ms. Vale's mother, singer Angelica Maria, received the award in 1996.

The United States-Mexican border has a unique, blended history of cowboys, bandits, lawmen, farmers, fishermen, oil riggers, soldiers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and teachers. The Charro Days festival reflects that deep sense of shared history and experiences, which is needed now more than ever. It is a time for all of us to not only remember our past, but to celebrate our future.

The Charro Days festival and the Mr. Amigo Award unite sister cities on both sides of the border and send a message that we are neighbors, and friends that trust, understand, and respect each other. We share a language, customs, and experiences unique to our communities, and during Charro Days we take time to celebrate our distinctive culture.

I urge my colleagues to join me in commending Angelica Vale, the 2007 Mr. Amigo, as well as the cities of Brownsville and Matamoros, for their dedication to international goodwill between the United States and Mexico.