Welcome to the Laredo Chapter of the International Good Neighbor Council. For more than 50 years, IGNC as we are known, has worked to promote a better understanding and neighborliness between the United States and Mexico.
Our organization is best recognized as the group who in conjunction with Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association are responsible for the Bridge Ceremony which takes place in February and symbolizes the deep ties that link together the United States and Mexico. Yet, we do so much more. The objective of our organization is to promote the principle of Good Neighbor and friendship between countries of the Western Hemisphere. There are currently a total of 26 active Chapters in the United States and Mexico. The chapters cooperate in activities that increase social, cultural, youth and educational exchanges, and support the principles of democracy based on constitutional authority. Many friendships of ten, twenty, and more years standing have developed across the Rio Grande border between members of IGNC.
We are blessed to work very closely with our sister chapter, Consejo Internacional de la Buena Vecindad-Nuevo Laredo. Every year, we host an annual fundraiser event to promote our organizations and to help sponsor various charitable events or activities that we have throughout the year.
Our busiest and most important time of the year is during the Washington Birthday Celebration. During this time, working together with the Nuevo Laredo chapter, we host the reception in January honoring the current year’s Abrazo Children showcased at the Bridge Ceremony. We also work in conjunction with the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association (WBCA) to organize the International Bridge Ceremony in February.
Aside from this busy time of year, we have other projects that we participate in yearly. Each year, we give a renewable scholarship to qualifying students at Texas A&M International University and Laredo College. We also sponsor a Christmas project at the Hospital Civil in Nuevo Laredo, as well as host ‘A Day at the Movies’ for kids living in the Bethany House Transitional Home.
Members of the group also enthusiastically help welcome new U.S. citizens with a flag pin, as well as provide them with voter registration information, during their Naturalization Citizenship Ceremony held in U.S. Federal Court every three months. Furthermore, contingent on fundraising efforts, we may choose to add additional projects to our list of community service fostering good will on both sides of the border.
If you are interested in becoming a member of our organization, we are always looking to add to our membership. We can certainly use your help in keeping the International Good Neighbor Council thriving and representing the best of Laredo!
Un Fuerte Abrazo,
Minnie Dora Haynes Rodriguez, 1987 U.S. Abrazo Child
President, IGNC-Laredo Chapter
Those familiar with the International Good Neighbor Council (IGNC) probably know the organization is responsible for Laredo’s Abrazo Children ceremony, which symbolizes the deep ties that link the United States and Mexico. The IGNC, however, has a much more storied history that dates back more than half a century. It was in 1954 when two prominent businessmen, Jose F. Muguerza of Mexico and Glen Garret of the United States, founded the international organization. Their objective was to promote friendship between the countries of the Western Hemisphere, with a focus on the United States and Mexico.
The headquarters of the IGNC was in Monterrey, Mexico, but it wasn’t long before chapters started sprouting up all along the border in Mexico, including the Laredo chapter in 1961. The IGNC organizes numerous events aimed at increasing good relations between Mexico and the United States. Each fall, all the chapters in both countries join together in the U.S. for a convention. They meet in the same way in the Spring in Mexico. At each convention, the members who are everyday citizens of their respective countries, discuss important, relevant issues. Some of these include education, immigration and healthcare.
In the fall of 2015, the IGNC Laredo Chapter and the Consejo de Nuevo Laredo held a fundraising event at the Laredo Country Club to raise funds for club projects and scholarships. The event was a success with hundreds of supporters from both sides of the border attending.
Additionally, the different chapters of the IGNC present scholarships based on merit and need in the fall and spring. The Laredo Chapter established an endowed scholarship at Texas A&M International University in the name of Renato Zapata, Sr., one of the founders and strong advocate of the local chapter.
The most well-known IGNC event for Laredoans is the Bridge Ceremony, a tradition since the 1800’s. The council became involved in the ceremony in 1969 when Velia E. Uribe introduced the idea of the children exchanging an abrazo, or a warm embrace, along with the adult officials. Since then, there has been a ceremony featuring the children every year. Many of the children have gone on to become successful adults. Some of the Abrazo Children selected through the years are even second generation kids, who, as their parents did in their early years, are now representing either the U.S. or Mexico as an Abrazo Child.
IGNC-CIBV International Good Neighbor Council is a non-profit organization founded in 1954 by prominent Mexican and American businessmen. The head office is located in Monterrey, Mexico. The objective of the association is to promote the principle of Good Neighbor and friendship between countries of the Western Hemisphere. There are currently a total of 26 active Chapters in the United States and Mexico. The chapters cooperate in activities that increase social, cultural, youth and educational exchanges, and support the principles of democracy based on constitutional authority. Many friendships of ten, twenty, and more years standing have developed across the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande border between members of IGNC.
Back Row (left to right): Amelia Bravo, Tim Shipton, Sylvia Palumbo, Eileen Andrade-Martinez, Candy Hein, Erica Luna-Gonzalez, Rochelle Velasquez.
Front Row: Lucy S. Hastings, Cindy Garcia Pope, Minnie Dora Haynes Rodriguez, Minerva Santos.
Not Pictured: Jesse Gonzalez