Five years as a World Heritage site
By Antonio De Jesús Aguuado
On July 7, 2008, after the effort put forth by several local administrations, UNESCO finally included San Miguel de Allende and its Shrine of Jesus the Nazarene at Atotonilco on the list of World Heritage sites. With this designation Mexico became the Latin American country with the largest number of World Heritage sites, and Guanajuato is now the only state in the country with two appointed cities.
To celebrate this important date, the Sanmiguelense Council of Art and Culture A.C. (CONSAC) organized the First Conference of World Heritage San Miguel de Allende from July 3 to 7. This event was conceived as a space for dialogue and ideas applied to the economic development of the city. Gabriela Zepeda, from the INAH, Manuel Sánchez Martínez, from the University of Guanajuato, a representative from the ICOMOS, as well as the president of the National Touristic Federation, Jorge Hernández Delgado, among others, shared their thoughts on several topics related to tourism and World Heritage standing. The celebration included the awarding of the Medalla 7 de Julio (July 7 Medal) for merit in tourism, designed and originally created in wood by artists Genaro Almanza and Maruja González. This recognition was forged in silver and gold-plated by the CONSAC. According to Adolfo Rubio, following the conquest the indigenous peoples inhabiting what are now the Mexican World Heritage sites, with immense effort, provided Europe with gold and silver, which helped to create great wealth, and this medal represents just that: a great effort for generating richness.
The medal was given to Fernando Compeán, who has worked for more than 38 years in the tourism industry and is a pioneer in the convention industry in Mexico. He is the first Latin American to be certified as a convention manager by the American Society of Association Executives, and he contributed to the book Convenciones a Lápiz/Pencil Conventions. He was also president of the Mexican Association of Tourism Press.
Compeán thanked the organizers for the recognition and commented, “Genaro Almanza never knew around whose neck his creativity would hang,” and he said that Almanza could be sure that wherever he goes, at every opportunity he has, he will talk proudly about the beauty of San Miguel.