Through my life I have lived in many cities; Mazatlán is particularly meaningful for me, my daughter Silvana was born here, and I was reborn here. I am a Mazatleco by choice. My first trip to Mazatlán was in 2009. My bohemian father and artist Alfredo Larrauri invited me to spend a vacation. I was astonish by the beauty of Centro, and I made myself the promise to live here someday. I moved in 2012, and over the last 10 years I have seen quite a transformation of the city.
Besides the beautiful renovations of Centro Historico and the magnificent Malecon; last year, State government authorities reach The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to participate in the Creative City Network program. The UNESCO´s Creative City Network program aims to strengthen cooperation with and among cities that have recognized creativity as a strategic factor of sustainable development as regards economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects. Gastronomy, crafts and folk art, music, design, film, literature, media arts, are some of the categories to designate a creative city. By joining the Network, cities acknowledge their commitment to sharing best practices, developing partnerships that promote creativity and the cultural industries.
Everybody nows that Mazatlan´s food is amazing. However, this program is not only about the taste of food. Gastronomy is one of the manifestations of culture, as it integrates several industries such as fishing, agriculture, hospitality and tourism. Putting gastronomy in the centre of Mazatlán´s cultural life and integrating it with environmental, urban and developing plans can transform Mazatlan into a gastronomic meca. Before that, plenty of work has to be made. Research has to be done to document and provide evidence on how gastronomy builds a sustainable and inclusive society. For this purpose several meetings and conversations have taken place on this ongoing process. I participated in two of these meetings invited by Cecilia Sánchez “China” —director of the Museum of Art — one of the coordinators of this project. During the meetings Unesco´s officials, experts and representatives of creative cities like Ensenada, Puebla, and Morelia for example, shared their cases and perspectives. They encourage Mazatlecos to empower themselves and bring direction to the project. Claiming that the government rol is to facilitate what citizens want.
Isn´t that what a democracy is all about ?
It is very important to consider all the voices and encourage the participation of all the stakeholders that create and recreate Mazatlán: farmers, fisherman, restauranteurs, chefs, gastronomy schools, universities etc. Recently I talked with Arturo Santamaria. Arturo is a researcher and writer, leader coordinator of Mazatlan´s candidacy for the Creative Cities program. “To get this certification a paradigm shift is needed to understand what UNESCO wants from us” — he said. This project is not only about tourism, is about recognising creativity as an expression of our culture, and how gastronomy´s value chain impacts more people without compromising the culture and resources for future generations. Sustainable development means that while preserving environmental and cultural common goods, it is possible create wealth and prosperity for all the Mazatlecos (including the future generations). There is much to be done; in the 2019 certification process Mazatlán did not got the recognition; it was the splendid city of Merida the one that now joins the prestige number of creative cities designated by UNESCO in México. Mazatlán will continue its transformation, the 2021 candidacy for the Creative Cities Network presents a unique opportunity to learn, unite and collaborate toward a more inclusive, integrative and sustainable future. Collaborative food courts, experimental kitchens, food and cultural tours, speciality restaurants, farm to table festivals, organic markets, mango festivals, etc. are possibilities for the youth and open minded entrepreneurs. The creative city networks is an opportunity to celebrate one of the most privilege regions of México, where the Pacific and Gulf of Cortes meets, and inland´s rich agricultural valleys are nurtured by generous rivers. I love Mazatlán.