By Jesús Aguado
San Miguel de Allende has sister cities in Italy, South Korea, the United States, Peru, and Ecuador. Currently these exchanges include 14 Mexican municipalities and 17 cities in the US. Recently, with the understanding that city sisterhood does not necessarily mean governmental tourism support, the city council of San Miguel approved a sisterhood agreement with Cuenca, Ecuador and Cusco Provincial Municipality, Peru. Mayor Luis Alberto Villarreal announced that the intention is to take advantage of cultural and academic exchanges. In the short term, the intent is to carry out student exchanges between universities in San Miguel, Cusco and Cuenca. Students would come for one or two semesters and continue studies similar to those they are pursuing at home.
Regarding the sisterhood with Cuenca, Francisco Garay—director of Economic Development and International Relations—noted that the Ecuadorian ambassador to Mexico had visited San Miguel prior to the lockdown. He found that Cuenca and San Miguel share similarities, such as certification as UNESCO heritage cities, founding in the 1500s, and commonalities of artisan traditions and tourism. “He was interested in knowing how the mixed Tourist Council (private initiative and the public sector) works, and the possibility of academic exchanges,” said Garay.
Regarding the Provincial Municipality of Cusco, Mayor Villarreal remarked, “in addition to history, we are joined by the arrival of the great Cossio del Pomar, who influenced the construction of the two arches in Atascadero. They are similar to arches and doorways in some neighborhoods of Cusco. The adopted son of San Miguel, Fray José Guadalupe Mojica, spent time in the Monastery of San Francisco in Cusco, as well as in Lima. A benefactor of San Miguel de Allende, he had gone from international movie star and opera singer to minister of worship of the Catholic Church.
Francisco Garay recounted that the first twinning of San Miguel took place in 1965, with an agreement signed with Acquaviva delle Fonti, Bari, Italy. The next was in 1992 with Redlands, California. All the others took place after 2000. He explained that prior to the contingency, San Miguel was already working with its sister cities of Tyler and Laredo in Texas to promote local crafts at the fairs that these municipalities organize throughout the year.