Building Bridges Over Borders
International relations can be some of the most challenging, yet rewarding and beneficial, relationships to develop. Understanding that at the core of every relationship there must be a solid foundation of trust can allow the connections to grow organically and unhurried. It will take time to establish trust and strengthen communication with foreign leaders, yet the US Hispanic Contractors Association is dedicated to investing our resources into our neighboring Sister Cities and is loyal to the friendship that has begun to develop between Austin, Texas and Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico.
This past weekend, the USHCA had the opportunity to support this mission by hosting and coordinating collaborative events to bring together public safety officials and elected officials from both the City Saltillo and our own beautiful City of Austin, Texas. The weekend kicked off with a welcoming ceremony at the airport on Thursday, upon our honored guests’ arrival. The welcome ceremony included the Pipe and Drum Ceremony and the famous Austin Fire Department Water Curtain. We hope that this spectacular display made our guests feel welcomed as they set foot in our beloved city. Following the fantastic display from our very own local heroes and protectors was a welcome evening reception, in which our Mayor Steve Adler personally greeted them into our city.
The following morning, the Austin Police Department honored our Saltillo guests with a tour of its Public Safety Training Campus. Proceeding this was a tour of the UT Stadium Tour, a staple of Austin. Meanwhile, the lovely spouses of our guests were graced with a private party at the Kendra Scott Flagship store. After the morning ventures, the full company reunited for a luncheon celebrating our guests, in which the Austin Fire Department gifted them a beautiful bell, representing respect for our sister city. Many gifts were exchanged between our hosts and guests, including an exchange between Austin Mayor Adler and Saltillo Mayor Jose’ Maria Fraustro Siller. It was clear that much respect already exists between them and everyone within both parties. It was a beautiful demonstration of camaraderie to see these cities unite in this way.
Senator Eddie Lucio then hosted the group at the State Capitol. He opened the senate chamber for a tour and shared the sentiment that we are interconnected and vital to each other. Friday concluded with a celebratory dinner at the new and renowned restaurant, Bulevar. Over delicious food, our guests and local hosts enjoyed each other’s company, as the festivities reflected a connection worth celebrating. The gift exchange continued, as a representation of respect and appreciation between our local EMS, APD, AFD and Saltillo safety officials.
Saturday morning began with adventure as the Austin EMS rescue team gave our guests and hosts rides on the lake aboard their rescue boats, alongside water rescue demonstrations from the Austin Fire Department. Our guests were then honored with a Police Boat Tour from the Austin Police Department, which wrapped up at the County Line Steakhouse for yet another luncheon honoring our very valued visitors. Mariachis filled the air with their song, setting the mood for the laid back BBQ lunch we wanted our guests to experience deep in the heart of Texas.
Following the exciting morning and luncheon, the exploration continued with a tour of the Austin FC Q2 Stadium. Our guests saw the inner workings of the famous major league soccer stadium and learned about its history, development, and progress. The weekend’s festivities concluded with a celebratory dinner reception at the Oasis on Lake Travis. Austin and Saltillo officials alike viewed the sunset together, as well as a flyby done by Austin PD on one of their helicopters, marking the close of one of many successful international relations developmental weekends to come. Police Chief, Joseph Chacon, was the MC for the night’s speeches and he recognized the combined efforts from every single person that went into making the weekend possible.
New training plans within Saltillo’s police, fire, and medical emergency departments in partnership with Austin’s departments were established during the trip; these sessions are a reflection of how strong the bond has become between these cities. It was a tremendous honor for the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association to be asked to assume the leadership role to organize a multi-day event celebrating this growing partnership between these Sister Cities. The USHCA appreciates every single sponsor, organizer, department, and our visitors for taking the time to engage together and making this weekend beyond successful. For now we send off our Saltillo family in cowboy boots, and look forward to continuing to build this bridge with the solid foundation of trust only found between brothers and sisters.
Our Delegation included the Honorable Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, the Honorable Hays County Judge, Ruben Becerra, the Honorable Travis County Judge Andy Brown, Council Member Renteria, the City of Austin Chiefs, Police Chief, Joseph Chacon, Fire Chief Joel Baker, Assistant Chief of the Fire Department Andre de la Reza, EMS Chief, Robert Aric Lockritz, and Homeland Security Director, Juan Ortiz, and our very own USHCA Chairman, Frank Fuentes. A special thank you to the wives of our delegation: Yvette Chacon, Gracie Ortiz, Jennifer Baker, and Gerald Bradley
Our honored guests included Saltillo Mayor Jose’ Maria Fraustro Siller, his lovely wife Maria Armandina and their Executive Team; Federico Fernández Montañez, Commissioner of Security and Citizen Protection; Beatriz Fraustro Dávila, Honorary President of the DIF Saltillo Volunteers; Carlos Estrada Flores, Secretary of the City Council; Juan Carlos Villarreal Garza, Treasurer; Mario Mata Quintero, Director of Economic Development and Tourism; Héctor M. Reyes Soto, Director of Social Communication; Alejandro López Siller, president of the Coahuila Southeast Firefighters Board; as well as Jesús Jiménez Álvarez, president of the Sister Cities Committee. Also the aldermen María Mayela Hernández Valdés, Lucía del Carmen Dávila Flores, Juana Lidia Torres Valdés, Eduardo Medrano Aguirre, Jorge Alberto Leyva García, Ángel Mahatma Sánchez Guajardo, Braulio Enrique Medina de la Rosa and Hugo Alberto Rábago Mar.
Thank you to our sponsors for making this event come to life, including:
Shane and Jen Stephans with Any Place M.D., Stuart Shaw and Casey Bump with Bonner Carrington, Sam Kumar with Journeyman Construction, Roland Cuellar Jr. with Cuellar and Associates, Rudy Muniz with Muniz Concrete, and Clint Meyer with HPI Real Estate.