The International Republican Institute (IRI) served as an expert judge for the significant municipal awards in Mexico recently. Along with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the International Association of City Managers and Managers (ICMA), and the Center for Municipal and Metropolitan Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, IRI helped select and honor efforts to enhance local democratic practices. 

Named in honor of Francisco Villarreal, a former Mayor of the City of Juárez who was a firm believer in federalism and local initiatives, the initiative was organized by Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN) and its Association of Mayors (ANAC).

During the event, municipal governments presented 89 projects focusing on enhancing public services, citizen security, public accounting, inclusion, competitiveness, as well as urban and economic development were assessed. Evaluators reviewed project effectiveness and need based on data, innovation, sustainability, replicability, cost effectiveness and potential impact. The cities of Mérida, the capital of Yucatan State known for its rich cultural heritage; Puebla, the City of Angels and Aguascalientes, Mexico’s third most industrially developed state, earned top marks with initiatives focused on economic innovation, inclusiveness and security.

Mérida and Puebla sought to create business incubators to help with business development, promote business friendly facilities and training modules to instill entrepreneurial skills and streamline administrative procedures. Mérida’s Municipal Center for Entrepreneurs provided a comprehensive model for supporting youth business ideas. Puebla’s I Buy Poblano encourages small businesses to create networks, promoting the notion of buy local. In Aguascalientes, the Beating for You initiative established a successful municipal suicide prevention center that will help those with suicidal tendencies find support.

The idea behind the award is to raise awareness and single out municipalities that are working toward enhancing citizen participation, government collaboration and innovative approaches for community engagement. The award promotes camaraderie, best practice sharing, experiences and good governance. This is unique, given that in Mexico it is uncommon for city governments to share experiences with their counterparts, providing an ideal space to share opinions, proposals and ideas. IRI’s participation underscored the Institute’s expertise in municipal governance and relevance as a trusted partner in promoting best practices.  

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