Community centers hover between corruption and closing
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
The community centers in San Miguel are situated in the most marginalized neighborhoods. Their mission is to train residents in workshops promoting values, the arts and trades to integrate them into the city’s social and economic activities. At this point, however, just two of the four community centers in San Miguel are operating, and in one of them, Los Girasoles, the neighbors have complained about corruption. A third one is closed and nobody knows who has the keys. The construction of the fourth has been in its second phase for two years.
The first world community center is unfinished
In 2011, then mayor Luz María Núñez and then Secretary of Social Development of the State—now governor—Miguel Márquez Márquez signed an agreement for the construction of the Centro Comunitario Las Cuevitas. That space was to benefit more than 600 families from nearby neighborhoods, such as Las Cuevitas, La Estación, Olimpo and Santa Julia. According to the
former secretary of the SEDESHU, Miguel Márquez, this would be a special project for a special city. He made it clear that the community center would be the pride of the country, totally open to the rich and the poor.
After the signing the agreement, Márquez remarked that this would be a world class center and would change people’s idea of Las Cuevitas from that of a conflict zone to that of a peaceful area. Núñez stated that it was a dream that was becoming a reality. The investment for the first stage was eight millon pesos. It was announced that the construction would have multiple phases (four), and the building would shelter a two-story hall that would be used as a library. Adjacent to this would be classrooms for workshops. The building would also have its own administrative offices as well as a central patio and an open auditorium. The handicapped would have total access to the complex through ramps.
At the end of Nuñez´s administration, the construction was handed over to the state government. There was a plan to close the current slaughterhouse, located behind the proposed community center. However, that has not happened because the new one constructed on the road to Dr. Mora has not been opened. According to Mayor Mauricio Trejo, there was an alleged embezzlement of eighteen million pesos. He made it clear that he would not open the slaughterhouse nor would he invest one more peso in construction that was corrupt since its start.
In the meantime, a study conducted by the Association of Barrio Las Cuevitas along with the Conservatory of Music and Arts, found that the family income in Las Cuevitas was 1480 pesos a month for families made up of more than five members. When the study was conducted, the neighborhood had 90 families, including 402 children. The associations also found that there are no educational centers in the area where the children can be enrolled. The nearest facilities are located as far as one and a half to five kilometers from the barrio. Las Cuevitas is an environment of conflict between the families and gang members. Drugs are a problem in the neighborhood, as well, and it is very common to see young men inhaling solvents on the streets throughout the day.
Regardless of the social problems faced by the inhabitants of Las Cuevitas, the study remarks that, thanks to instilled family values, the residents hope to be integrated into modern society. They will not be defeated by the adversities that come from the differences of cultures, customs and traditions or from the poverty that restricts their development initiatives.
Martín Salgado Cacho, head of the Social Development Department, commented that the local administration and members of several nonprofit organizations are holding meetings with state authorities in order to open this center in the months to come. Sanmiguelenses Unidos, a new organization, also expressed its interest of working with the local government on this project.
The Roza Kent Community Center is closed
On December 2010, the local administration of former mayor Núñez, along with organizations such as the Rhode Island School of Design, Instituto Tierra y Cal, Parker Street Foundation and others, inaugurated the Community Center Roza Kent in the colonia Francisco Villa. This center was a project of the local government and Joseph Kent, Roza’s son, who wanted to honor his mother’s memory with a charitable work. During the opening of this building, Irma Rosado, then director of the liaison with Nonprofit Organization Department, advised that the new work would offer workshops for the inhabitants of colonias Francisco Villa, San Luis Rey and Santa Cecilia. The workshops would include arts and trades, carpentry, literacy, massage and first aid. The multiple-use rooms would be for holding talks against both violence toward women and drug abuse. The administration will consider creating organic orchards with others involved in the project to harvest vegetables which later would be sold at TOSMA, the Farmers’ Market. The income would be used in the maintenance of the center. However, the project remains “just a project” because the building is currently closed. It is uncared for and there is tagging on its walls. There is no furniture. The current administration has installed exercise equipment outside, but neighbors told Atención that the center has been closed for a long time, and they do not know who has the keys.
According to Salgado Cacho, some people have requested classes with teachers from the CEDECOM, located in the fraccionamiento Itzquinapan, but the local administration rules prohibit that.
According to the neighbors in La Lomita, this center was constructed when Vicente Fox was governor of Guanajuato (1996-2000), and it is operated by the state. Although the center offers several programs, such as classes in papier maché, Tae Kwon Do and English, as well as support for some primary and secondary students and those needing physiological attention, members of the organization said that every day they offer their services to more than 50 people. They made it clear that the local people are very apathetic and are not interested in participating in the workshops. Further information must be requested from the Public Relations Department of the Secretary of Economic Development.
The employees also informed Atención that once they were called to a meeting
to determine a solution to opening the Roza Kent Center, but only two people attended it. In the meantime, some neighbors of the colonia accused the employees of “corruption.” They implied that an oven that were installed for baking bread suddenly disappeared, as well as tools used by beauty workshop attendants. One of the employees said that the oven was handed over on bailment to Juan Hernández, who knew how to use them and was responsible for training other people in their use. Atención found that this oven is abandoned now in the fraccionamiento Insurgentes because Juan took a job in a restaurant. The Girasoles employees assured that the ovens will be handed over to a cooperative in the rural community of Guanajuatito in the weeks to come. The beauty workshop tools were distributed among class attendants.
The only center now operating is the Centro de Desarollo Comunitario, located in fraccionameinto Itzquinapan. It offers more than 40 art and trades workshops to more than 1800 people weekly. This center, operating with municipal and federal resources, has been noted by SEDATU as the best in the state. The local administration is now considering converting the Centro Cuevitas into a new CEDECOM.