1. The Historic Center of Morelia was registered on the World Heritage List in 1991. What has been the impact of this nomination for your city?
The impacts were totally positive and have led our city to be part of a prestigious group of cities on a worldwide scale, and we can be proud of our 1,113 architectural historic monuments, 260 of which are of great importance; this has resulted first of all on the national scale regarding off-beach tourism. We now wish that Morelia will become, owing to the participation of its citizens, the No. 1 city in cultural tourism.
2. In your opinion, what is the vital role of a mayor when a site has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List?
This is a major commitment; our city now belongs to the World, and as mayor, I must take care of this major architectural jewel, this monumental treasure. I am deeply in love with my city, and this is why, from the day I started to work within this administration, I have devoted a great deal of effort and passion in taking care of the hearth of this grandiose city in which I was born and where my children were born and will live. I feel very committed and this is why I have accepted this major challenge. I will do the outmost to continue to look after our historic heritage and the marvellous cultural heritage of that city, my stately city.
3. Concretely, what have been your actions toward the protection and enhancement of your heritage?
From the beginning of my management, I have ascertained the state of abandonment in which my city was; I therefore proposed, in the first year, to “save” the space, to eliminate the graffiti and to protect the intangible values through 11 programs; I have therefore doubled the budget compared to that allotted for the preceding year. In the second year, the social factor had to be consolidated and the historic center had to recover its value and become accessible to its inhabitants by making the streets pedestrian, by eliminating public buildings and by rehabilitating obsolete structures, so that, from the third year, an intensive property salvage program could be applied.
4. Do you hold special events to enhance your city?
Of course. Every year, the City organizes and supports the implantation of events, both national and international; the FIM (International Film of Morelia), the FIC (International Film Festival), the MEB (Food Festival) and the FIO (International Organ Festival) are only a few examples, in addition to the traditional events, such as the Silence Procession during Holy Week, which is a national tradition, the Day of the Dead and the processions that are held on September 15 and 30. This year, the Central Place will recover its music and the scenic illumination of the Cathedral will be modernized. The boundary of the city is an invitation extended to the residents and the tourists.
5. Morelia was chosen by the Board of Directors as the headquarters of the Regional Secretariat of Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. What does this nomination mean for your city and what are your objectives?
This is not only an important distinction and a tremendous privilege, but also a deep commitment due to the wonderful job already performed by Valparaiso, Chile; however, it is sure that we are sharing this responsibility and that we will carry it out, as we are relying on the human factor and its deep love for our city. To do so, relationships of this new region need to be strengthened and we must work in collaboration with the Regional Secretariat of South America and the six other regions.
6. In your opinion, what makes Morelia such a special place?
It is decidedly an area full of histories, which owns unprecedented monumental wealth, owing to its urban plan, where the streets all lead to a market and where attractive places filled with interesting stories abound. All that, combined with its culinary arts, its music, and its people, makes it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.