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Sanmiguelenses Asked to Vote on City’s Seven Cultural Treasures

Gonzalo González

Gonzalo González, Secretary of the City

Jorge Olalde, Presidente de la Asociación de Hoteles y Establecimientos de Hospedaje de San Miguel de Allende

Descripción del impuesto para Quintana Roo


By Jesús Aguado

With San Miguel de Allende’s recently announced designation in 2019 as an American Capital of Culture, an initiative has begun to have San Miguel’s residents decide upon the city’s “Seven Treasures” that exemplify its heritage, a project sponsored by the International Bureau of Capital Cities.

The Seven Treasures initiative is just one of several projects in progress here “to heal from the inside with culture, art, and civics to show the world a better face,” said Mayor Luis Alberto Villarreal.

The International Bureau of Capital Cities (IBOCC) is a Spanish organization that each year designates a different city in Latin America as an American Capital of Culture. For one year, the NGO then promotes the designated city with international publicity and advertising.

Sanmiguelenses will get to vote on various elements that make San Miguel culturally unique, the top seven choices to be named San Miguel’s Seven Treasures. Items on the list include religious and pagan traditions, the city’s well-preserved natural environment, and its pre-Columbian and colonial architecture. One of those projects is the election of the Seven Treasures of the Heritage of San Miguel, a list that will be kept in the pages of the IBOCCC. The last day to vote will be November 25.

The Seven Treasures’ goal

The webpage of the IBOCCC states that the goal of the Seven Treasures project will be to promote the cultural heritage of San Miguel de Allende in an educational way, as well as to motivate people to visit the selected sites. The project also aims to establish new touristic routes that can help visitors to learn about the city’s rich heritage. Citizen participation is selection of the seven treasures is highly encouraged.

City Attorney Verónica Agundis, president of the local government’s Commission for a Cultural City committee, told Atención San Miguel that 38 sites and annual events have been nominated. She was pleased, she said, that the Lord of Conquest fiesta (which takes place each March) is among those candidates. The Lord of the Conquest is one of the first religious sculptures brought to the San Miguel de Allende area 475 years ago. Its celebration each year is the basis for all other celebrations along the year, Agundis said.

Also nominated was the Fiesta of the Holy Cross of Valle del Maíz (an event celebrated in late May or early June) and the Biblioteca Pública.

A library that is more than books

For more than 60 years, the Biblioteca Pública has been a place where San Miguel’s past, present, and future cross paths: the building, whose architecture dates back to the seventeenth century, has always been a meeting place for a diversity of Mexican and expat thinkers and for different social classes, religions, and political beliefs. It shelters more than 60,000 books in English and Spanish and offers arts and cultural events and activities for young and old alike. It also helps low-income children access a better future through scholarships, enrichment classes, and tutoring. For all those reasons, the Biblioteca was nominated as candidate to be one of the Seven Treasures of San Miguel de Allende.

Atención interviewed the president of the Library’s board of directors, Ali Zerriffi, who noted the importance of the library as a cultural center for Sanmiguelenses. He also shared details about the library that not many know:

Jesús Aguado: What is the importance of The Biblioteca Pública in the community?

Ali Zerriffi: A city may be defined by its infrastructures, but a community is defined by its public spaces: parks, markets, libraries, pedestrians streets, sport areas are where people meet and share common experiences.

A public library is one of those spaces that add to the quality of life in a community and the Biblioteca Pública de San Miguel de Allende is most special among public libraries. Created more than 60 years ago to provide neighborhood children with a safe space to meet and read books and magazines, it has become an icon for one of the most of special places in México, San Miguel de Allende. Over the last decades, the town has become a beacon for artists and art lovers from all over the world. The Biblioteca Pública is where the different communities, independently of origins and ages, meet.

JA: Independently of the nomination, why is the Biblioteca a treasure in the city?

AZ: Apart from its physical importance as one of the city’s colonial architectural gems, the Biblioteca has a very important history marked by the histories of both the country and the city of San Miguel.

It has served many functions since the changes brought by the war of the Reforma in the mid-nineteenth century and the acquisition by the State of [Catholic] church property. From a shelter for women in need to a municipal slaughterhouse to a community cultural center, the Old Lady at Insurgentes 25 has become part of the life of many generations of Sanmiguelenses.

JA: What does the nomination to the Seven Treasures of San Miguel represent for the Library?

AZ: It is recognition of its role in the community, a role in which many people have participated and from which many young people have benefitted to make it an indispensable component of our social and cultural environment.

JA: Why should the voters pick the Library over other options?

AZ: The Biblioteca Pública is an arc stretching from the past toward the future. A depository of a large bilingual collection of books, it is also a safe space for young people to meet and participate in cultural activities and take classes in art and science. It is an institution that has helped many young residents to reach toward their full academic potential, through extracurricular activities and scholarships to institutions of higher learning.

Vote for la Biblioteca!

To vote go to http://www.cac-acc.org/7TSMA.php click on the “votar” button and fill the blanks.

 

 

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