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Mayors Of The Californias Meet In Ensenada

ENSENADA, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO---Government officials from California and Baja California met last week in this port city for the first Binational Forum of Mayors of the Californias.

Shared interests, dependence and friendship of the two areas were the main themes.

The Thursday and Friday session at the historic Riviera cultural and civic center was inaugurated by Baja California Governor Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan, who noted that Mexico was the primary trading partner for California.

Representatives of Baja’s five cities as well as ones from Santa Ana, West Covina, Signal Hill, South El Monte, Redondo Beach, Fullerton, El Centro and Duarte were among those attending.

Panels focused on topics including the border crossings, tourism, shared culture, history, family ties and economic interests.

Mexicali Mayor Rodolfo Valdez Gutierrez called for improvements to make border crossings faster, stating that current waits are “damaging the economic capacity we have as a region”

Rosarito Beach Mayor Hugo Torres spoke of the importance of promoting more understanding and cooperation among cities in the closely-linked region, and asked California mayors to share their impressions of Baja at home.

“Please go back and tell people what you saw.” he said, noting that some stories about Mexico’s crackdown on organized crime have created the false impression that Baja is not safe for visitors.

Torres since taking office in December of 2007 has been a strong proponent of binational cooperation and understanding between the U.S. and Mexico.

Cooperation between all regional cities was a common theme. “We need to work together, we need to trust in each other,” said South El Monte Mayor Blanca Figueroa.

Added Ed Wilson, vice mayor of Signal Hill: “I am not Hispanic but I consider myself part of the California family.”

Steve Diels, mayor pro tem of Redondo Beach, suggested increasing air transportation between the two Californias while noting: “It is very obvious that we are linked, that we must work togetherDiels also noted that both Californias have challenges they are facing: “I would like to report to you that we also have problems in L.A.”

Ensenada Mayor Pablo Alejo Lopez Nunez and Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez were among those who called for ongoing meetings and other actions including possibly forming a binational league of cities with expanded membership.

“We have to get organized,” Alvarez said. “There is much work to be done.”


Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:07 AM by Herb Kinsey


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