Challenges for the administration in 2014
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Compared to the past, 2013 was a good year for San Miguel, according to local authorities, in terms of international promotion and investments. Mayor Mauricio Trejo commented that this year will be better because large projects such as the convention center and renovation of the aerodrome will be inaugurated. He said that the industrial park will be constructed in the north area of the city and will provide employment for sanmiguelenses. He also talked about his political projects. Other directors talked to Atención about their work in 2013 and their projects for this new year. In addition, they talked about their letters to the Three Kings.
María José Garrido Eraña, head of the Tourism, Economic Development and International Affairs Department, said that 2013 was the year to find out the tourism potential of the city and to convince the private sector to trust the Tourism Council and her department. “And we achieved it,” she said, with international festivals and national press conferences. According to the director, almost daily an article about San Miguel de Allende appeared in a national or international media outlet. She noted the appointment of San Miguel as World’s Best City by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
For this year, Garrido said that they started working on five strategic areas, among them international promotion. For this project, she said that San Miguel will not participate in tourism fairs because when they traveled to New York to receive the award from Condé Nast Traveler they realized that San Miguel can sell itself, organizing its own international events, and for that reason 70 percent of their budget will be invested in international promotion and 30 percent in national promotion. She said that her department is working to create a tourist attraction outside of the historical center and that the current administration will be remembered for it.
The director noted that this year all the festivals will be supported, some of them financially and others just with the needed permits. Garrido commented that the festivals will be assessed based on media publicity. “If it is not in the media, and people do not come, that would mean that it is not an attractive festival and we will not fund it,” she said. She compared the festivals to a son who must grow up and be successful in order to be self-sustainable. “You cannot bring a son into the world expecting that the government is going to take care of him,” she said.
The director highlighted that in 2014 they will focus efforts on attracting business and professional tourism, and for that they will offer the new convention center, located on Salida a Celaya. It has not been inaugurated yet, but three national congresses are about to be confirmed. According to Garrido, this kind of tourism grew 700 percent in 2013.
Gabriel Arturo Yáñez Saldaña commented that when he arrived in the Public Security Department in December 2012 he found improvements were needed, such as the creation of the General Direction of Citizens’ Security (which involves the departments of Traffic, Civil Protection and Public Security) in order to improve security in town. That General Direction has its structure and regulations, said the director, and will be ready to start operating the first half of this year. Since 2009, police officers had not received any increases in their salary, so in 2013 Saldaña worked to obtain a 30-percent raise for officers. This, noted the director, was with the idea of providing them economic security and avoiding illegal behavior.
As for the director of Civil Protection, Felipe Cohen shared that in 2013 the department held simulations and revised plans of civil protection in bars, restaurants, schools and stores to train people on what they must do in case of a accidents. In 2014 they will reinforce these activities. These programs in comparison to the three previous years have increased an average of 300 percent.
Mayor Trejo said that 2013 was a year full of satisfaction and work. “I have never worked this much from the private sector,” he said. For him, the year was full of compromises, working in the office and not spending enough time with his family. “But there are results,” he noted. According to the mayor, during his administration the loss of jobs was stopped and security was improved, especially because there are no members of organized crime living in the city. Touristic competitiveness was revived, he said, through intelligent promotion that led to San Miguel’s being voted the World’s Best City.
The most important thing, he commented, is that the community took part in decisions, and the expat community, which positively promoted the city, decided to get involved in matters of security. Trejo acknowledged that it was a year of disagreements with several sectors that used to work in an illegal way but finally they accepted the regularization. “The street vendors understood that in the city the law must be respected,” said Trejo, who ended the year as president of the Mexican Association of World Heritage Cities and as national councilor of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI).
When Atención asked him whether he considered himself a controversial mayor, he said yes, that he is controversial because he came to the administration in a different way and because he is working hard. “I do not fear everyday problems, and that personality trait will always be controversial. If a mayor is not controversial, he is not giving his best; he is not breaking paradigms or changing things for the better. If I am controversial, but the results are good, that is what San Miguel needs, in addition to fraternity, unity and cooperation,” he noted.
Several citizens have started the rumor that Trejo is preparing his next political campaign to run for federal legislator, senator or even governor. On this matter Trejo made it clear that he is proud of being mayor—all he ever dreamed of—and will conclude that dream. He said that any other political post is not his dream. The mayor noted that if he finishes his three-year term and if he and the citizens are happy with the work, then he can start dreaming again.
Trejo announced that among the projects to be concluded in 2014 is the convention center, which is being built on Salida a Celaya at a cost of 40 million pesos. The 3,000-square-meter convention center will have a salon and patio that seat 500, an auditorium for 100 persons, two dressing rooms and two meeting rooms. The aerodrome will also be opened, which will improve the touristic offerings in the city. In 2012, when the then Secretary of Touristic Development, Sergio Rodríguez Junquera, visited the city, he announced the investment of seven more million pesos for the aerodrome, which would be used for asphalting the landing strip and to construct hangars. The secretary assured that San Miguel would be connected with the beach destinations with through “air taxis” to bring people and from here transport them to other cities. Mauricio Trejo assured that this aerodrome would attract tourist with buying power from the United States.
Although he did not mention the number of employments, nor the investment, Trejo assured that the new industrial park in the city will be located in the north and will generate employments for sanmiguelenses. The Center for Retirees, he said, it will have an 80-percent of advance.
The interviewed directors talked about what they are going to ask of the Three Kings.
Mauricio Trejo said he will ask for more cooperation in matters of security from the expat community, which must be more united with the local community. He will ask for help and jobs for everybody. “I wish for lots of energy to keep going to benefit San Miguel,” he said, because “there is a lot of energy, but also there are many obstacles.” He wished everyone a Happy New Year and said that this year will truly be a prosperous one and better than past years.
María José Garrido will ask to keep having the support of the private sector. “I work for them; we organize cultural programs and congresses so the hotels and restaurants can have guests, and generate, at the same time, jobs for sanmiguelenses,” she said.
Felipe Cohen said that in his letter to the Kings he will ask them to encourage residents to get involved in the programs of security, which must be a priority. Working to maintain security cannot be abandoned, said Cohen, because it will help avoid injuries that could last forever.
Alejandro Ramírez, director of the Commission of Sports, said, “I will ask them to convince the city council to approve the budget as I designed it, because the city council must understand that sports are important for the development of society. If there is more investment in sports, then public security and other matters will require less investment.”