Latin mayors here for 6th meeting on local government
hundred mayors and municipal officers from throughout Latin America
and the Caribbean attending the Inter-American Conference of Mayors
here this week drafted a proposal stressing local governance to send
to the 2001 Summit of Presidents in Quebec.
hope the proposal will put political pressure and political support
on the importance of committing themselves to a strong, viable system
of government in Latin America," said conference director Allan
Rosenbaum, a Florida International University professor.
6th annual event, sponsored by FIU and Miami-Dade County, is the largest
and most important for individuals concerned with strengthening local
government in Latin America, said Dr. Rosenbaum.
assembly, at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel, was held in Miami for
the fifth year.
brought the conference to Miami because, in many ways, Miami is like
the capital of Latin America," said Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier
Souto, a key sponsor along with county Mayor Alex Penelas. "Many
Latin Americans send their children to school here. It has become
a place where they conduct business."
Souto's support has been invaluable to the success of the convention,
Dr. Rosenbaum said.
conference," said Tony Ojeda, director of protocol, international
trade and commerce for the mayor's office, "is an opportunity
for mayors to listen to expert seminars on technical assistance and
hear the latest techniques on how democratic institutions are developed
at local levels."
Ojeda said recent changes in Latin American government make this cause
even more important. The election of mayors and local officials and
control of financial resources by local government are two elements
these countries are just beginning to manage, he said.
concept of local governments as independent taxing institutions are
struggle between local and national government has always been important
to him, Dr. Rosenbaum said. He said he once worked closely with the
US Agency for International Development, or USID, on a project to
build local governments in Chile, Peru and Paraguay.
is a famous saying by American Tip O'Neill that says 'All politics
is local.' Democracy really depends on whether the citizens are being
served," Dr. Rosenbaum said.
Morante Velasquez mayor of Carquin, Peru, a small city near
Lima known for its fishing industry said he hoped the conference
would aid in advancing the relationship between the state and municipalities.
also hope to discuss how to create jobs and a more productive work
force," Mr. Velasquez said.
Gomez de la Vega, director of an investigative institute in Venezuela,
said he hoped to share his findings and research from a study his
institute conducted on the city of Cumana, Venezuela, which he said
greatly benefited the city.
need to organize the communities' power into political power,"
Dr. Gomez said.
Rosenbaum said he was content with the number of mayors attending
despite a problem with many invitees attaining visas from the US consulate
had the worst time ever with people getting visas. Without the problem
there would probably be 800 here," Dr. Rosenbaum said. "This
event is in keeping with foreign policy. US consulates should recognize
that it is beneficial."
who attended, organizers said, were responsible for accommodations
and travel expenses.
national-local relationships, sessions were held on citizen participation,
public safety and international-agency and private-sector funding.
event is also supported by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development
Bank, the Organization of American States and the USID, which were
the original sponsors of the conference in its first year, Dr. Rosenbaum
said. The organizations also presented sessions, such as a special
presentation by Enrique Iglesias, president of the Inter-American
Iglesias, not unlike his famous namesake, is one of the most important
people in Latin America. The USID puts in about $4 billion to $5 billion
into Latin America," Dr. Rosenbaum said. "The Inter-American
Bank puts in about $11 billion. If you asked a Latin American leader
who he would most like to have dinner with, President Clinton or Enrique
Iglesias, he would probably choose Enrique Iglesias."