Pan Ams not immune to anthem gaffes


GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- There is no doubt that what was witnessed Friday night at Omnilife Stadium was simply spectacular.

However, there were some details that perhaps weren't noticed on television but surfaced from the stands.

The opening ceremonies of the Pan Am Games on Friday night overcame all of the expectations; nevertheless, the Mexican national anthem turned out for the worse.

Vicente Fernandez, known as el Rey de la Canción Ranchera (The King of Ranchera Music) throughout the Latin world, performed an a cappella version of the anthem, but made a mistake when he changed the lyrics.

"Surround Oh Motherland! Your temples dear (Ciña ¡Oh Patria! tus sienes querida)," he sang.

The correct composition of the anthem is, "Surround Oh Motherland! Your temples with olive (Ciña ¡Oh Patria! tus sienes de oliva)."

Fernández replaced the phrase de oliva (of olive) with the word querida (dear), both terms rhyme if based on the Spanish pronunciation.

Fernández does have a solid background in music, but even the best chef has his off days. Still, his gaffe happened at an international event with more than 200 million people watching on television throughout the continent.

"That's how my teacher taught me the anthem when I was a kid," Fernández said afterward. "It's the third time I sing the anthem [at an event], but not in front of 80,000 people. I felt such a great honor to be singing the national anthem."

The singer acknowledged his mistake while interpreting the anthem.

Saturday, the mishap was being criticized throughout Mexico. Forgetting the lyrics of the national anthem has become a bad habit in Mexico.

Artists such as Julio Pachado, who made the mistake at a Caribbean Series baseball game; Luis Ramirez, who forgot the lyrics and finished by humming it; and singer Pablo Montero, who erred at a NASCAR race in Mexico, committed what for many is a national sin.

But the most memorable was Coque Muñiz, who got confused and finished the anthem by modifying its lyrics before Jorge "El Maromero" Paez's boxing match on Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day.

Another negative moment from Friday's opening ceremony was when ODEPA president Mario Vázquez Raña plainly didn't know what he was reading. His speech was so hastily prepared, he was the only one booed during the event. To make things worse, he said during his speech that this was the 10th Pan Am Games, when in reality it's the 16th edition.

It was a shame to see thousands waiting in line outside at the end of the ceremony. Many had to wait for hours for buses or shuttles to take them to parking lots. A lot of people plainly preferred to walk at midnight and look for taxis to take them instead.