The Yucatan Times is conducting interviews with the candidates for Mayor of Merida. We invited our readers to send their questions for them, and out of more than 700, the TYT Team narrowed it down to 7 main topics:
- SURVEILLANCE AND SECURITY
- PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
- GARBAGE COLLECTION.
- HISTORICAL CENTER
- GOVERNMENT AND ECONOMY
Check out Nerio Torres Arcila answers to the questions made by the Expat Community:
- What action do you plan to keep Mérida reputation of being one of the safest cities in Mexico? Given the recent arrests of several high-profile cartel leaders and their families here in Merida, some people say that the reputation is beginning to erode and there is an increase in crime.
Three are the pillars of my government proposal:
- Keep the essence of Merida
- Solve urgent matters
- Work with a vision for the future of the city.
In all three proposals the issue of security is very important to keep the essence of the city and its people. I understand security is always present in the mind of the people living here, particularly after the recent arrest of some organized crime members. We need to keep and ensure security by maintaining a police force well trained and equipped. However, that is not enough, as citizens we need to play our part. Education, culture and traditions play an important role in the coexistence with the police force. This activities include but are not limited to, a neighborhood watch, a local police task in the “colonias” and security cameras in strategic locations.
We also need to bring back our traditions such as, Jarana and Serenata nights, danzon, and provide the community greater access to cultural events in order to improve family values and bonds with the neighbors. One of the programs I want to create will be focused specially in the formation of our young generation solving issues of unemployment, through a first employment program, however that is not enough and we need to help with addictions and provide more opportunities for students that need scholarships, so they can finish school and help those who want to start a business with loans of low interest.
So I understand security as an issue which involved the culture, traditions, local coexistence, but also the police force. And to keep our traditions I propose Thursday Serenata and Jarana in the colonies and Sunday Danzon in parks. To give young people greater access to cultural events I want to create the “Culture 18” card.
To ensure safety we must work in the formation of our young people, solve problems as unemployment, for example. Therefore in my proposals are more scholarships and school kits for high school students, 1st employment program, and credit without collateral for women, seniors, youth and persons with disabilities.
As a last point, for me one of the conditions for ensuring safety is the fact that the city is thriving. So among forward-thinking projects consolidation in Merida is a brand-destination to further boost economic activity and tourism.
- Many members of the community, both local and foreign have experienced home robberies in recent months and attendance tracking police have been less than helpful. Some expatriates have the feeling that the local police have no desire to do anything. How you think you could fix this?
From my experience I have learned that we must do things right, and that begins by listening to what other people have to say. Once again I am aware that security is a major topic that has to be faced head on with no excuses and with all the weight of the law behind to enforce it. It is important to ensure not only expatriate community but the entire citizenship that security will be maintained.
- Why is there two police corps? One for the historic center and one for the rest of the city. The police at the Historic Center is not as efficient as the other. What is the difference between one and the other?
According to the Constitution, each municipality must have its own police force, so we have the municipal police of Merida. However, our city is growing exponentially and the City has no way to cover for the entire territory, so an agreement with the State Government was signed in order to provide a police task force that would serve the downtown area including bilingual police officers that can assist tourists and english speaking residents as well as citizens. I think there´s room to improve the municipal police and training programs will be available. It is a fact that municipal police has tried to seize actions that belong to the state police which has led to misinterpretations of its actions, that is why we will have to raise the level of the municipal police.
- Transit. It is not clear to the expatriate community public transport situation and why the council has no influence on this. Can you explain if you plan to somehow revisit this issue?
In the past, the municipality of Merida was to regulate the units as well as the increase in public transportation fares. However, the city council gave it back to the State Government. Currently only the state government has the authority to act on the issue of transportation, nevertheless during my travels and talks with the citizens, I have noticed that this issue is very important for our city. We need more efficient transportation, with better quality of service and modern units. We must bear in mind that urban mobility is not just the problem of movement of vehicles, Merida will continue to grow, increasing the amount of its population and this is directly linked with public transportation, which is already very inefficient. Amongst my commitments is to support a priority Reorganization Plan for the Urban area of Merida and its municipalities, coordinating efforts with the State Government for the changes to be implemented quickly and appropriately. Currently the State Government is working on a project called “Integrated Transport System of the City of Mérida and its metropolitan area (SITUR)”. For the first time, the issue of public transportation is comprehensively attended from different perspectives, the one of the user and the one of the service provider. There are several stages of implementation and each ones is accompanied by complementary studies and meetings held throughout the project for a better performance.
- Also in this issue of transportation. There is a perception among the expatriate community that the transit system of the city and particularly in the Historic Center is totally ineffective. Are there any plans to remedy this situation? What would do the job?
It is still basically the same issue which is lack of infrastructure that is required. This will not happen from one day to another since it is a complex problem and a big project that involves everyone in the city. That is those who visit, those that work in the area, tourism, etc. measurements such as streets and sidewalks, are amongst the urgent matters that need to be attended but also studies of vehicle capacities, transit and rush hours need to be conducted in order to establish the right approach. What will follow after that will be gradually implemented. I also need to add that I propose to create a pedestrian signage and a sustainable mobility program with bicycle lanes and public bike stations.
- What is your opinion upon hearing that many people want to turn “La Plancha” into a park and a new “lung” for the city?
I feel very good about such an important project. We need to work for a more friendly and greener city, rearrange the living spaces better. Amongst my commitments is a reforestation program in Merida to increase the planting of trees and ornamental plants, and the Plan of improvement of parks and green areas of the city. This is a project that need to be seriously taken into consideration.
- What do you think will be the biggest obstacles to achieve such a project?
The main issue is that the land we´re talking about belongs to the Federation, that means that the only one that has the faculty to decide upon it is the Federal Government. However, today I make a personal commitment to join this project so together we can find a way to make this a reality. I´m sure by unified efforts yours and mine we can achieve this goal since the Municipal Government would work with the State and National Government for better results.
- How do you propose to improve this service in the “Centro Historico”?
I strongly believe that garbage recollection should be free and efficient, the reality is that today it is inefficient and expensive. It costs in the paying of taxes, it costs in the paying of the service but above those two it costs a “tip” to the recollector which should not exist. The recollection of garbage is a service that such be given without cost as part of the benefits, citizens should recibe as payment in return for paying their taxes as it happens in large capital cities in Mexico and other countries of the world. A free recollection of garbage implies that the service has to be more efficient because citizenship also has to do its part in its separation of the garbage, so recycling can become an essential part of the process. That is a matter of pubic health since there needs to be a separation of solid, organic and inorganic waste so the separation plant can operate adequately and diminishing the amount landfill.
- What is your vision abut continuing the rescue of “Centro Historico” to its former greatness? As I said since the beginning in this interview one of my main purposes is to maintain the essence of the city and a fundamental part of it is to preserve its historical heritage, amongst my government commitments Includes the restoration of different buildings and facades that compose the unique image of the city of Merida. I have also proposed the creation of a co-investment fund for the rescue of the historical patrimony.
- How would you improve the delivery of services downtown? this is purified water, gas, etc.
By strengthening the process of densification of the historic center, encouraging investment in the area in order to give a new economic boost and bring incentives to those willing to invest in the area.
- What do you suggest in order to bring more tourists to Merida and give its airport more use instead of people using Cancun´s airport that offers better fares and destinations?
I think it is time for Merida to become a touristic leader since we have so much to offer that begins with our cultural heritage and the warmth of our people. We have beaches, mayan archeological sites, cenotes, incredible gastronomy, not to mention outstanding medical facilities and services as well as world class education facilities. Not very many places can brag about what we have.
- If you win the election would you coordinate efforts between State and Municipal tourism offices in order to gather efforts and create one solid line of touristic promotion?
Most certainly yes, and its precisely what I propose that in conjunction with the State Government elaborate the first coordinated touristic plan of Merida in order to articulate the efforts in connectivity infrastructure and promotion. Something very important I need to mention, is that a joint effort between State and Municipal Government would make a much stronger projection for the city and the State.
- In the debate you stated that you wanted Merida to become a touristic brand. Would you explain better what it is that you meant?
My proposal is to consolidate Merida as a brand/destination. This means we need to position the name of the city on an international level by making it even more known than what it is today. Merida needs to become a cultural artistic innovative and competitive concept that integrates all its appeal.
Economy and Government
- How will you combat rampage corruption that it is still present in the current administration of Renan Barrera and the past administration of Angelica Araujo regarding the presence of the street venders downtown and in the local “mercados”?
Last April I joined the initiative known as “Candidato transparente” or “transparent candidate” and I made my tax and patrimonial declaration public, I was the first candidate in Merida and the sixth in the entire country to do so, because the residents of Merida deserve a transparent government that accounts for its actions and faces the challenges of this city, taking the right decisions for the benefit of our society.
Regarding the street vendors issue, I´m proposing to create the “Illegal Commerce Control Program” (Programa de Control de Comercio Ilegal) and look for alternatives to employ these people and help the families that depend on this activity to live.
- When foreigners come to live in Merida and wish to open a business, creating jobs and more economic affluence, they always complain about the tedious and complexity of the necessary permits and documents that they must provide, what are your thoughts on this matter and if you plan to change it, how would you do it?
Economy is vital for my administration, I believe that the city political economy must focus on providing easy procedures in order for more companies to invest and grow, also allowing people to start new businesses. Big and small entrepreneurs have been asking me to simplify the paperwork needed to open a business, obtain construction licenses and soil usage permits. People is tired of always hearing “no” from the municipal authorities, I´m committed to change this, that´s why I proposed in coordination with the State and Federal Governments to establish the “Merida Business Management Coordinated Unit” (Unidad de Gestión Coordinada de Negocios de Mérida) to simplify the process to open a new business.
- Would you be willing to create an office to listen to the opinions or complaints of the foreign people that live in the city?
Yes, I would most certainly consider to open such office as part of the efforts that City Hall wants to implement to have a better line of communication with the foreign community that resides in the city since everyone deserves the same rights to be listened to.
- As Mayor of the city of Merida in case you win the election. Do you have any authority regarding the vehicles ownership tax (tenencia)? and is there a way (maybe in conjunction with the State Government) to eliminate such tax?
I would like to divide my answer in two parts:
- Currently such tax only applies in certain vehicles over a certain amount of money that could be considered as luxury or semi luxury cars.
- The municipality of Merida has no authority regarding such tax that belongs to the State Government, however we can work with the State Office to review the subject since to this day it is a recurrent topic amongst the population and those who own a motor vehicle.
- Do you think our opinion as a foreign community serves to you in any way, considering we cannot vote?
Every single opinion is extremely valuable but most particularly of those who have decided to adopt the city of Merida as their new home, the expatriates have chosen this city as the place they want to establish and live with tranquility, security and a good quality of life. The expatriates community has contributed greatly to the restoration of the historical center, they create work opportunities and value certain things we Yucatecans take for granted. Their opinions are very important to me since their point of view is honest and transparent.
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