Ricardo Villarreal Is on the Job
By Jesús Aguado
For the good fortune of some and misfortune of others, October 10 has arrived. It is the date that marks the ending of the administration headed by Mauricio Trejo and the beginning of a three-year period that could turn into a six-year term for Ricardo Villarreal García.
Like all San Miguel de Allende mayors, Ricardo Villarreal arrives in the administration with big projects, emphasizing above all the new road that could go from the road to Querétaro to the road to Celaya (crossing Los Picachos), as well as the promotion of the Bicentennial Highway (that would cross Tierra Blanca). This is a federal project that has been shaky since the beginning (2010) and is not underway due to social activists who have said that the construction could damage the tangible and intangible heritage of the indigenous communities.
Among his projects, Villarreal also includes the opening of the airfield, which has been closed since 2013, and the band shell (an outdoor auditorium with a capacity of ten thousand seats (started by Luz María Núñez Flores in 2011) that Villarreal said will open during his administration.
The opening of the slaughterhouse would mark the beginning of improvement and recovery of marginalized neighborhoods on Calzada de la Estación because finally the area currently occupied by the slaughterhouse—source of pollution and bad odors—would be free for construction of a second phase of the Cuevitas Community Center to begin. This is a state project that has been on standby since 2012.
One of the other challenges Villarreal will face will be reducing the payroll of the local administration, a payroll that he catalogued as “madness.” He previously told Atención that from 2012 to 2015 the budget for salaries went from 116 million pesos to 183 million pesos. The local administration has 1,350 employees until October 9, but Villarreal says he will try his best to reduce it by 20 percent through an austerity agreement.
This will be one of the most pluralistic city councils of the last 12 years. It will be made up of five city councilors from the PAN party plus the mayor and assistant mayor, three city councilors from the PRI party one from the Humanitarian party, and one from the Social Movement party. Check the names and images of the city council members on the central pages.
“Hasta la vista” MauricioTrejo
The last week of September outgoing mayor Mauricio Trejo granted an interview to Atención.
Jesús Aguado: Now that you are leaving the administration, what is the correct title that people should use to address to you?
Mauricio Trejo: In the political arena, “former mayor,” because it is the traditional way and that is the title that remains, but I would not feel comfortable if somebody came and said to me, “Former mayor, how are you?” The correct way to address to me is Mauricio Trejo.
JA: What is the best experience you have had after serving three years in San Miguel de Allende?
MT: Being mayor is one of the greatest satisfactions that somebody can have. When I was not here, I realized there that we had detected too many needs, but once here those needs leave a mark on you and an eternal commitment. From the private sector, we do have the compromise of generating employment, and from that stand I was always very critical in order to improve the economic conditions in this city, but here I received criticism 24/7. But I got acclimated soon, and I understood that I was now on this side.
JA: What were those detected needs?
MT: Three years ago we needed to recover the economy that was very precarious. The real estate sector was in bankruptcy, and the tourism sector was trying to survive the crisis. The rural communities needed more attention because the previous governments had put all their attention in the urban zone, and we focused our energy on the communities that needed running water, electricity, schools, and medical attention. There was a security crisis due to the kidnappings, and we reduced that crime by 97 percent.
Today the needs are different because we must take care of the growing of San Miguel. The development of this city cannot be stopped, but it ought to be controlled and organized. Now the need is to work with the deputies to reform the laws that release criminals in fewer than 48 hours after they have been arrested.
JA: What will make you different from other mayors?
MT: Personally, I try my best to do what I know how to do: the generation of employment and wealth for entrepreneurs. That marked my administration, the closeness with the private sector. That makes me different, as well as the great participation I had from the state governor. Although he is from a different party, the relationship was very close. Also, I was a mayor who never surrendered to blackmailing by anybody.
JA: How do you hand over the administration? Is the government report enough?
MT: For saying all we did, we need hours and hours, and there are no people who can stand that. The law states how we have to hand over the administration. As an outgoing mayor, I cannot qualify if it is correct or incorrect; nor can the incoming mayor. We have the duty of fulfilling the law. We are respecting the law, and we are using the forms and filling out the documents that we need to fill out, always respecting the law. We are leaving money for the administration to operate until December 31 as well as 30 million pesos from the National Fund for Culture and Arts for the improvement of the historic center. We are leaving an administration with qualified and well equipped police officers. There are some areas where we could have performed better, but time is never enough.
JA: Did you have failures in your administration?
MT: The final results cannot be measured from the day a mayor leaves an administration; they are in the short and long term. I cannot say that there are failures, but I want to say that we needed to work more and have more communication with the people who did not think as we did. We needed to avoid the ignition of specific topics.
In all the administrations, there are successes and failures, but the growth of the economy in San Miguel is one of this administration’s accomplishments. That gave me a good experience because people are thankful, and that marked me.
JA: The biggest triumphs of your administration?
MT: The recovering of the economy. We brought running water to rural communities that did not have it. We gave legal certainty to the properties of more than six thousand people. We decreased the kidnappings. We unified the private and public sector. We positioned San Miguel in the world, and we received several world acknowledgments that improved the economy. We started the construction of the industrial zone and planted vineyards.
JA: What remains to be done?
MT: We worked very hard to make the bicentennial road, the second phase of the Libramiento Manuel Zavala, possible. We still need a peripheral road in the city and the construction of the UNAM’s preparatory school. And if we talk of desires we need many wells of potable water, construction of preparatory schools—the work never ends.
JA: You have always known when to run for a public position, and you have said it, too. After the administration, do you see yourself serving in another post?
MT: I love working. Right now I see myself working in my businesses with my daughters, and later we will see how the times are and where I would want to be participating. I will work from wherever I can. This stage is ending, but there is always more.
JA: If there is always more, what would that position be?
MT: I cannot answer now. Any position is good, but I need to be in the mood for it, and there are circumstances that I have to face. Now I am in the mood to hand over the administration and go to my businesses with my family. The time will come when I will be in the mood to see what is next, and then I will let everybody know.
JA: From one to ten, what would be the grade for your administration?
MT: It would be incorrect if I do it. What is clear here is that there are people who can give us a five because they did not receive a benefit. Others could give us a seven because they receive an indirect benefit. Those who were directly benefited would give us a ten.
JA: Is there something else that you want to say?
MT: I want to express my respect and gratitude to Atención and Jesús Aguado for the way that they worked these three years. There were topics on which we never agreed, and I am still not in agreement, but there were others that helped me to work even harder as a mayor. I reiterate my commitment to the freedom of the press.