When David Barkely Cantu joined the military during World War I, he kept his Hispanic surname a secret in order to fight alongside Anglo recruits. He didn't want to be relegated to perform the menial tasks that minorities were assigned to. He wanted to fight for his country to prove his worth. Now as the City of Laredo hides its relation to Nuevo Laredo by deleting our Sister City's name from road signs leading into town, it's doing something akin to what Barkly Cantu did, except its inspiration is more cynical than anything.
No longer will you see the distance to Nuevo Laredo posted on signs when travelling south on I-35. You can thank the Laredo Chamber of Commerce for that. Apparently they were the ones who suggested the move to the Texas Dept. of Transportation. And, of course, they obliged. Meanwhile, Mayor Raul Salinas tries to save face by suggesting that this was all the D.O.T.'s doing.
It's a decision that TxDot made, and obviously, we respect their decision. It's a family, you know, that's not divided but united by a river, and we keep that in mind. Obviously, they're going through some difficult times.
It's a family. Sure. Nuevo Laredo, we're just going to hide you in the attic while we have some company over. The mayor's comments are not surprising. It would be awkward if the mayor owned up to the city's real intentions and then have to greet Nuevo Laredo officials at bridge II during the abrazo ceremony, not to mention all the other festivities area politicos partake in.
Que Fregados takes issue with the cost of this highway sign project. And Bordertown Blues alludes to our identity crisis. Personally, I couldn't think of a more undignified thing to do. And for what? For personal gain. For tourism dollars. The city could've addressed potential visitors' concerns with PSAs posted on their website. The mayor could've put his homely mug on video to welcome and reassure bird watchers, kayakers, and fishing enthusiasts to town. But instead our leaders have chosen a different tact.
To equate the city's actions with David Barkely Cantu is wrong. No, what Laredo, TX is doing resembles the plot of the movie "The Birdcage." The cast has to send Albert (the flamboyant partner of the club owner) away to make a good impression on the son's future in-laws. This movie gives us laughs while exposing character flaws in a couple of the cast members. Unfortunately life is imitating art in our instance.
This issue might not create much of a controversy since few people are engaged with the happenings of Laredo. But we might see some reaction from Nuevo Laredo leaders. They might be alright with all of this, but that doesn't give the city a pass to be acting like fools.
UPDATE: LaredoTejas is not amused as well.