Dental convention held in San Miguel de Allende historic center
Text and photos by Antonio De Jésus Aguado
After two years of hard work by members of the local chapter of the Mexican Dental Association, the most important dental convention in Mexico opened yesterday, May 24, in San Miguel de Allende. Since 1950, the meeting has been held in a different Mexican city every year and attracts more than 1,500 dental professionals from Mexico and other Latin American countries as well as the US. The three-day conference ends May 26. The planning to holdDr. Alma Godínez, who 20 years ago founded the local dental association. “As sanmiguelenses we know that we have tourists mainly on the weekends, so we chose weekdays. We chose May because the month is a low season for tourism. We also wanted to hold this meeting here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Dental Association of San Miguel de Allende.”
Historic center gets the vote
Godínez said San Miguel competed against Cancún to host the 2012 meeting, and that at the presentation the dentists were captivated by San Miguel. Out of the 110 votes cast, 97 were for San Miguel. According to Dr. Alma, “We did not want to sell the conference, but rather the destination. We offered the historic center as the venue for the meeting, a place where visitors can walk on the cobblestone streets of the city, not just between the white walls of a convention center. We offered the possibility of walking through streets where finding a restaurant to grab a coffee was going to be easy, where everything would be close by: shops, galleries, lecture rooms and hotels.”
A program with a social conscience
Dr. Jorge Vargas, president of the local dental association, said that the association’s goal is to use any proceeds from the conference to establish a space for their National Oral Health Program for Preschoolers. This program has begun and currently is being offered across the country through the ADM. More than 25,000 children benefit each year from the program; the only requirement is that they be enrolled in a kindergarten. The program has the aim of promoting and instilling habits of oral care in children between three and six years of age. In San Miguel, children from rural communities such as Don Diego and La Esperanza as well as students from Colonia Francisco Villa have benefited from the program.
Venues and support from the municipality
Juan Rosario Licea Perales, secretary of the city council, said this meeting represents the chance to demonstrate that the city is the perfect place to hold this kind of event. “We have been talking with the local association of plastic surgeons, and they are interested in holding a similar event. In San Miguel we can hold this type of event and have an opportunity to attract more tourists and economic resources in a month considered low season.”
The meetings of the dental conference will be held at the Teatro Ángela Peralta, the former Cine Hermanos Aldama and the former city hall building (presidencia). At the former presidencia representatives of the dental industry will display equipment and new technologies at a three-day dental fair. According to Licea Perales, the municipality charged the organizers of the event for the use of the space. “We always want to respect fiscal regulations, so we signed an agreement with the organizers for the rental of the space. For this event the organizers are charging the attendees at the meeting, and for that reason we decided to charge them for the use of the building. We want to avoid misunderstandings, so we signed a contract.
On the other hand, we supported them with publicity and design work, callejoneadas [strolls through the streets with musicians], security services and transportation, among other services.”
The former Cine Hermanos Aldama has seating capacity for approximately 1,200 people, but according to the conference organizers it is very costly to rent, close to two million pesos a week. The event organizers acknowledged they have faced several obstacles to bring about this meeting, and for that reason after the event they will hand over a complete report to the media. Dr. Alma said, “Despite the high costs of the event, which have increased twice in comparison with our budget, we are happy because this will demonstrate whether the city is really prepared for events of this magnitude.”