Mr. Amigo opts out of Matamoros parade

Mexican Consul Victor Manuel Trevino and Americna Consul Michael Barkin in Matamoros

Many south of the border are wondering why this year's Mr. Amigo Vicente Fernandez Jr. opted out of the Matamoros portion of Saturday's international parade.

The annual February parade starts in Brownsville for Charro Days and ends at the Plaza Hidalgo in Matamoros for the Fiestas Mexicanas celebration.

A heavily-guarded Fernandez was greeted by the cheers of thousands of fans along Elizabeth Street in downtown Brownsville.

But Fernandez's car did not head south into Mexico like those partcipating in the Mexican portion of the parade.

Officials with the Mr. Amigo Association did not immediately return calls for comment, but the the group's website showed Fernandez was scheduled to appear in the parade on both sides of the border and at two events in Matamoros.

Fernandez was scheduled to appear at a reception at the Hotel Residencial along Alvaro Obregon Boulevard at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

He was also scheduled to view the Mexican portion of the international parade from the Presidencia Muncipal in downtown Matamoros.

The Matamoros parade on Saturday featured Matamoros Mayor Erik Silva, Mexican Consul Victor Manuel Trevino and American Consul Michael Barkin.

Also riding in the Matamoros portion of the parade were "Huespedes Distinguidos" or "Guests of Honor" Mexican actress Alma Muriel and Spanish-language TV show host Sergio Mayer.

Traditionally, past Mr. Amigos such as actress Angelica Vale have ridden in a car as part of the Matamoros portion of the parade but Fernandez did not.

One elderly woman inside the Cafe Paris in downtown Matamoros told Action 4 News that she didn't see Fernandez at the beginning of the parade with the others and hoped he would be there at the end.

"He wasn't in the parade," she said in Spanish afterwards. "I don't know why."

Another woman selling portraits of Fernandez in the Plaza Hidalgo said many had come hoping to catch glimpse of Fernandez.

The portraits are traditionally sold along the parade route every year and used by fans to get autographs of their favorite stars. The ones of Fernandez went unsigned.

It's not clear why Fernandez opted out of riding in the Mexican portion of the parade but Action 4 News has recently documented several acts of drug violence in Matamoros and other Mexican border cities such as Reynosa.

Fernandez was once also a victim of organized crime when he was kidnapped and held for ransom in a widely publicized case. He lost two fingers in his left hand during the ordeal.

According to the Mr. Amigo webstie, a selected Mr. Amigo must also be a Mexican citizen who has contributed to the friendship and understanding of both the United States and Mexico.