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Traveling the World in San Miguel

By Jesús Aguado

The world celebration returns to San Miguel with the 16th Encuentro Internacional de Convivencia y Hermandad Universal (International Congress of Coexistence and Universal Brotherhood). The encounter will feature plays, films, music, dances and more in different public plazas and theaters, among other venues. It will take place from Friday, May 22, through Saturday, May 30.

Don Luis Ferro de la Sota, councilor of the Sociedad Civil en Marcha (group that organizes the event) has put into action the popular phrase that Benito Juárez immortalized in 1867 when he said, “Among the individuals, as among the nations, respect for the rights of other is peace.” And Don Luis Ferro assures that San Miguel, through its traditions and customs, has shown the world that this is a city where it is possible to coexist independently of religions, languages, nationalities, skin color, or social status. He also comments that culture must be accessible to all social strata and, for that reason, “if sanmiguelenses cannot travel the world, they should know that the world can come to them.” Ferro expects the confirmation of more than 40 ambassadors to Mexico as in previous years from other countries like Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Greece, Indonesia, China, and Bolivia, among others.

The idea of bringing world representatives in Mexico to San Miguel started 16 years ago. This year, Ferro assures that the Sociedad Civil en Marcha is working with the local universities, giving them all the tools so they can invite the ambassadors next year. That idea, points Ferro, will help the universities to sign agreements to arrange student exchanges in the years to come. “The inclusion of young people is very important,” commented the organizer. This year they will work with the arts group Espiral from the Universidad de Guanajuato. This organization will present a variety of free events for the general public.

The program

It will start on Friday, May 22, at 6pm, with a solemn city council meeting at the Teatro Ángela Peralta. There, the city council will appoint the ambassadors as special guests to the city and will hand over recognition to them. The event is open to the general public, allowing all to listen to the speeches from the public servants attending on behalf of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Governor Miguel Márquez Márquez as well as the mayor’s speech. At the end of the session, the visitors will gather outside the theater for a group photograph.  A “Flag Parade” of students marching from local preparatory schools bearing the flags of the countries present for the Week of Universal Brotherhood will take place, followed by the representatives of each country. The parade goes through Mesones, Hidalgo, Portal Allende, Plaza Norte, Correo, and Corregidora and ends end at San Francisco Church, where an invitation only musical recital will be presented.

For the first time the Semana de Hermandad will feature “Tradiciones de mi pueblo,” an event that will be held the same day at 8pm in the Jardín Principal. This event will feature the Balet Folklórico of San Miguel besides live music, mojigangas (giant puppets), and the giant colored stars used for the Alborada (break of day) in October. This is to share with visitors and locals the richness of San Miguel’s traditions.

On Saturday, May 23, at 11am, in the corridors of the Plaza Real del Conde on Boulevard de la Conspiración an arts and crafts exhibition from several countries will be inaugurated. Don Luis Ferro assures that the crafts and arts of the visiting countries to be exhibited are authentic. The embassies are channeling them to the organizers. The expo will be open on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (May 23, 24 and 25) from 11am-5pm.

On Saturday at 7pm at the Teatro Ángela Peralta, the colors, movement, music, and dancers from Indonesia will appear to show their culture, and the Philippines will present a singer.

The Semana de la Hermandad will also feature folkloric dances from Veracruz, Jalisco, and Nuevo León. It will also have tango, danson classes, storytellers, and many other activities that will be expanded to colonia San Antonio. Check the whole program in Festivals and Events of Qué Pasa.

On Sunday, May 24, the Espiral group will present the musical play Mi vida sin ti (My Life Without You) with a script based on the songs from the Spanish band La Oreja de Van Gogh. This band’s songs are about love, deceptions, success, and failure. The play will be performed at the auditorium of the Cultural Center Ignacio Ramírez on calle Hernández Macías at 7:30pm.

The events will end on Saturday, May 30. It is a tradition now to close the Semana de la Hermandad with the Chinese Lions, although they have not been confirmed yet. What is confirmed is a monologue by Espiral, Isabel viendo llover in Macondo (Isabel watching the rain in Macondo) written by well-known Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. Macondo is a fictional tropical place where the Buendía family saw its rise and fall in Márquez’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude. In this monologue; a woman named Isabel lives in Macondo, a town where one day an unexpected rain suddenly started; the rain plus the wind do not allow Isabel to know how the days change—days or nights—because the lighting is always the same. The rain kills animals, bores the inhabitants, and floods their houses. In the monologue there are sounds that transport the audience to Macondo, and there is even a moment in which, like Isabel, they can feel the water that has reached her knees. Isabel viendo llover en Macondo is a monologue that expresses nostalgia, prophecies, delirium, boredom, and beauty all at the same time.

In context

This annual event was the idea of Don Luis Ferro de la Sota, a sanmiguelense who feels a deep love for the city and who was mayor of San Miguel for two terms, from 1970–1972 and 1983–1985. As mayor, he signed several sister city agreements with other cities. He also knew Stirling Dickinson, an American philanthropist who first came to San Miguel in the 1930s and has left an indelible mark on the town. One of his many interests was organizing sports teams, and Don Luis Ferro commented that the local government used to lend him space to use as an athletic field but later the location was changed. That problem ended when Ferro became mayor. Together they built the local baseball stadium, and the local administration purchased more land to be used as soccer fields.

To pay homage to Stirling Dickinson, a plaque and a bust were unveiled on Ancha de San Antonio, and Don Luis Ferro was invited to speak. When Ferro saw all the attendees of many nationalities, he thought it would be good to demonstrate to the world through the Sociedad Civil en Marcha (a nonprofit organization) the importance and beauty of the city. In addition, thanks to the agreements with sister cities, it was easier to invite representatives from those countries to come to San Miguel for a cultural exchange. For 15 years the congress has brought other cultures to San Miguel and sent a bit of San Miguel out into the world.

Previously, Ferro told Atención that this congress is held because San Miguel de Allende is a special city, one of those few places in the world where there are people from more than 40 countries. This event, he commented, is to let the world know what is happening in San Miguel: its arts, culture, and social programs. He said that he realized that the easiest way to do it was by inviting all those diplomatic authorities accredited in the country. “Here there are no conflicts. People work to help others, and that is incredible,” said Ferro.

Espiral is a group with a mission of dedication to the exposition and dissemination of artistic and cultural activities from the students, professors, administrative personnel, and members of the Universidad de Guanajuato and general society. The idea is to recover and promote cultural values as well as strengthen the students’ social service; which makes them more responsible and creative.


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