San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Granada Mayor Opens Dialogue with Expatriate Community

GRANADA – In what promises to be the beginning ofa new era of good-will relations between the municipalgovernment of Granada and the 1,000 members of theexpatriate community living here, Mayor Alvaro Chamorrorecently made good on his promise to The Nica Times toopen a new space for dialogue betweenhis government and foreign investors(NT, Jan. 21).At Chamorro’s request, longtimeexpat resident Scott Deitler recentlyhelped to arrange the first of a series ofsit-down meetings between the newmayor and 50 foreign investors fromNorth America and Europe.The mayor explained to the groupthat the doors of his government areopen to foreigners, and that he wants towork with the expat community tocontinue the development and modernizationof the city.“I welcome your questions, concernsand comments,” said Chamorro,a longtime leader of the Conservativeparty, who last November won themayoral election on the Sandinista/National Convergence ticket.“Here’s my home number and my cellphone number; if you ever have anyproblem, give me a call.”CHAMORRO, who reiterated he is not a Sandinista,despite his party’s electoral alliance with the SandinistaNational Liberation Front’s National Convergence, outlinedkey elements of his ambitious 36-point developmentplan, which is based on waste management, increasingtourism and citizen security.The well-spoken and engaging mayor said his plansaim to make Granada the leading tourism destination inCentral America, by improving citizen security, trash collectionand disposal, and streamlining beaurocracy for foreigninvestors who are respectful of the city’s colonial styleand history.He stressed that he plans toinvolve all residents – both Nicaraguansand foreigners – in the city’sdevelopment.“I don’t want to be a mayor whomakes decisions and then informs thepublic about them. I want to be amayor who includes all citizens in thedecision-making process,” Chamorrotold the crowd of nodding expatsgathered in the enormous privatemuseum of Dutch expat PederKolind. “This is how I understanddemocracy.”CHAMORRO, 59, outlined severalof his ambitions: create an aquariumin Granada that features the aquaticlife of neighboring Lake Nicaragua;construct a central bus terminal; relocatestreet artisans to the vacated areain front of Xalteva Church; implementa tourist-police force and neighborhood-watch program of volunteer police; coordinate andstreamline government bureaucracy; convert the old abandonedcity hospital into a new 140-room tourism conventioncenter; improve garbage pickup and waste management;improve traffic control; improve road infrastructure;and secure Granada’s nomination as a United Nation’sWorld Heritage Site.Chamorro also said he hopes to make the meetings withthe expat community monthly occurrences, in an attempt tostrengthen relations between the government and foreigninvestors.While completing all his goals with an annual municipalbudget of only $4.3 million may prove to be aHerculean task, Chamorro – two months into his term –has proved that he intends to follow through on his campaignpromises.

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