By Mariana González-Márquez
Mexico City, Dec. 13 (EFE).- Mexicans on Monday said their farewells to ranchera music icon Vicente Fernández at his ranch in the western state of Jalisco with a long music-filled mass.
The family of the singer-songwriter, also known as Charro de Huentitán, decided that the tribute would be held at the Los Tres Potrillos ranch, which he built more than three decades ago near Guadalajara, surrounded by his people and his music.
This was what Fernandez, who died on Sunday at the age of 81 after spending months in hospital after a fall, wanted and what allowed his fans to pay their respects for more than 24 hours at the adjoining Arena Vicente Fernandez Gomez.
The stream of visitors continued well into Monday morning.
The auditorium was filled with the sound of Mariachi Azteca, which accompanied Chente, as Fernández was popularly known, during his concerts, and which only remained silent during family prayers.
The coffin of the greatest idol of Mexican popular culture was surrounded by white flowers, candles, a crucifix, a Mexican flag and the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, of whom he was a devotee.
A huge black-and-white photograph of the singer with the phrase “Rest in peace” formed the backdrop for the religious ritual that concluded with a phrase that could summarize his life: “Vicente did not want us to sing Las Mañanitas, he wanted applause.”
The ceremony was attended not only by family members and ranch employees but also by his friends and celebrities including boxer Julio César Chávez and singer Pedro Fernández.
The mass concluded with the powerful notes of the popular song “Guadalajara, Guadalajara” as dozens of photographs were streamed on one of the screens.
The singer’s children and his wife, Refugio Abarca, gathered around the coffin.
Alejandro Fernández, also a singer, thanked those who had come from all over Mexico for their love and affection.
“We want to express our appreciation for all the love and affection you showered on my father during his life. I ask for a round of applause for the doctors who were attending to my father and made an effort until the end. May Vincent live forever!” he said.
“To all the people who are watching us, who asked (after him), sent blessings, sent masses and prayed, I send blessings and thanks,” Refugio Abarca said.
Alejandro Fernández sang “Volver, volver,” the song with which his father wanted to be bid farewell.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also played the song during his morning press conference at the National Palace on Monday in tribute to the singer.
The coffin was prepared to leave the auditorium and the stage for the last time amid applause and tears from the audience.
The singer’s remains were then buried in the ranch’s garden during a small ceremony, alongside his horses and on his land.
The Mexican government is considering organizing a tribute to Fernández at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, in Mexico City, where tributes to iconic figures including Frida Kahlo, Chavela Vargas, Gabriel García Márquez and Juan Gabriel were organized. EFE