by Isabelle Bully-Omictin, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, ICMA
I had the pleasure of joining ICMA President Lee Feldman, Executive Director Marc Ott, and staff of ICMA México-Latinoamérica (ICMA-ML) Dr. Octavio Chavez, Director, and Dr. Jaime Villasana, Deputy Director, in August at the annual conference of the Federation of Latin American Cities, Municipalities and Associations (FLACMA) in Pachuca, Mexico. FLACMA is the Latin American Chapter of the Union of Cities and Local Governments, an organization founded in 1981 to defend and represent the rights of local governments.
Not only was the meeting an affirmation of the importance of local government in Latin America, but a side event provided a glimpse of a mayor showing extraordinary care for the well-being of his municipality and its people.
The organizers of the conference, the Federation of Municipal Authorities of Mexico (FENAMM), invited Lee to participate on a panel with leaders of regional organizations to discuss the importance of networking for local governments.
He also gave brief remarks and presented awards to recognize local governments throughout Latin America that have demonstrated good governance practices in the key areas of management, citizen security, strategic and urban planning, transparency, technology, social, health and education programs, and citizen participation. ICMA-ML staff participated in the evaluation of these municipal practices.
The conference brought together more than 3,100 subnational government representatives, including nearly 400 international mayors and 376 mayors from Mexico, and representatives from national governments and national municipal associations, to discuss issues relevant to municipalities throughout the region. FLACMA and ICMA signed an Affiliation Agreement at the conference (see photo).
I was impressed throughout the conference at how frequently ICMA was recognized, publicly and privately, as the organization that has the tools to promote good governance. Now more than ever it is critical to support well-governed and transparent local governments that have the capacity to generate the required resources to provide equitable and efficient services to their citizens.
Outside of the FLACMA event, Marc and Lee participated in a discussion with the mayor, staff, private sector and community representatives of Corregidora, a municipality of about 185,000 people in the state of Queretaro. ICMA and ICMA-ML have been working with Corregidora since 2002, mainly in performance measurement and results-based budgeting.
We had a great discussion about public service delivery and professional local government management, and Mayor Mauricio Kuri could have ended the meeting on that note. But at the end of the meeting, he took some time to address an incident that had happened earlier that day. Three people had been killed, one of them a 13-year-old, related to someone from a nearby state who had fled to Queretaro to settle a drug-related score.
I was struck by how affected the mayor was that this had happened in his municipality. He was clearly devastated. I recalled the article on vulnerable leadership in the July 2017 issue of Public Management (PM) magazine when I saw Mayor Kuri display his empathy and concern in front of community members and the business sector. He was honest and emotional and connected with them in a way that I believe they will remember. I certainly will.