Mr. Amigo 2024 Denounced for Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric

Words by Melissa Cortes Santiago

The end of February is around the corner, and for the residents of Brownsville and its neighboring city of Matamoros, this marks the beginning of the Charro Days celebration. The event stretches from February 29 to March 2 and commemorates the area’s Mexican heritage. 

 

What usually serves as a unifying event has caused controversy due to this year’s Mr. Amigo honoree, Eduardo Verastegui. Members of the Brownsville community have denounced Verastegui and have petitioned for his removal as Mr. Amigo due to his homophobic and anti-abortion rhetoric. 

2024 Mr. Amigo, Eduardo Verastegui wearing a black suit
Eduardo Verastegui was announced as Mr. Amigo 2024 in December. Photo obtained from the Mr. Amigo Association’s Facebook page.

What is Mr. Amigo?

For those not familiar, the Mr. Amigo title is run by the Mr. Amigo Association, a nonprofit organization that takes part in the Charro Days celebration. The City of Brownsville also takes part in announcing a new Mr. Amigo honoree. The Mr. Amigo title is given to a Mexican citizen who serves as a role model for the community and, according to the association’s website, has “contributed to the friendship and understanding of the United States and Mexico.” 

 

Starting in 1964, they have featured prominent figures such as Vicente Fernandez, Juan Gabriel and Lolita Ayala. These candidates are all chosen by their selection committee, composed of the association’s past presidents, without input from the local community. 


Verastegui is an actor and producer known recently for the film Sound of Freedom, which has sparked some controversy due to its depiction of human trafficking and leaning into conspiracy theories associated with QAnon. Last year, Verastegui announced his candidacy as an independent for the Mexican presidential elections.

He was running on an anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA+ platform, rallying alt-right conservatives throughout the country. He stated that he would do anything in his power to reverse abortion access in Mexico if he were elected president. In a now-deleted tweet, Verastegui uploaded a video of himself shooting a practice target and suggested that the same action would be taken against members of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as climate activists. 

 

He could not gather the 1 million signatures needed to be on the presidential ballot. However, his extreme political views and calls for violence have led community members in Brownsville to denounce him as a choice for Mr. Amigo, a figure who is supposed to foster friendship in the community. 

In a post by the Mr. Amigo Association about a fundraising event, a community member denounces Verastegui’s election as Mr. Amigo. Photo obtained from Mr. Amigo Association’s facebook page.

We reached out to the Mr. Amigo Association for comment on the community response to Verastegui’s rhetoric, but we got no response. 

How the LGBTQIA+ Community is Affected

Verastegui’s nomination as Mr. Amigo and the association and the city’s lack of response to public concerns is surprising. Unfortunately, it’s part of a larger narrative that demonstrates how much more work the city of Brownsville still needs to do to truly support its LGBTQIA+ community. 


Strides have been made with the creation of the
Brownsville LGBTQ Task Force in 2019 to address discrimination and health concerns amongst the community. However, after last year’s rainbow-colored crosswalk was vandalized during Pride month, it was obvious that more needs to be done to combat anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments. This was glaringly obvious by the fact that the city was not transparent in releasing footage of the vandalism. 


This year’s choice for the Mr. Amigo title further emphasizes the need for transparency amongst these organizations. Although the city of Brownsville is not directly involved in the selection process for Mr. Amigo, it condones the association’s choice and prominently features them during the Charro Days festivities. To genuinely represent the community and foster friendship between both countries, a much more community-centered selection process is desperately needed.

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