Amazonino Mendes, Mayor of Manaus, Brazil



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Amazonino Mendes
Mayor of Manaus, Brazil
By Adriana Maciel

11 June 2010: Amazonino Armando Mendes was born in Eirunepé, in the state of Amazonas on 16 November 1939. He is the fifth of six children of Armando de Sousa Mendes and Francisca Gomes Mendez. Amazonino was brought up in Saboía close to the River Eirú in the Valley of Juruá, after he went to the capital Manaus where he studied law. His father was mayor of Eirunepé and state deputy in the 50s. Mayor Mendes has been shortlisted for the 2010 World Mayor Prize.

Amazonino Mendes is the current Mayor of Manaus, from the Labour Party of Brazil (PTB), the capital of the Amazonas State, in the north of Brazil. Manaus is one of the most important cities in the country. It is located close to the confluence of the Rio Negro (‘black river’) and the Amazon. The city has a total area of 11,401 square kilometers and its population in 2008 was of 1,738,641 inhabitants and around 2.2 million in the metropolitan area. Manaus represents the economical and cultural center of the northern region of Brazil. Among its most important export products are rubber, Brazil nuts and wood; its main economic activities are: petroleum refinery, food industry and tourism.

In the late 50s and early 60s Amazonino joined the left students movement. It was then when he made the first contact with Governor Gilberto Mestrinho. During the coup d’état of 1964 Amazonino was arrested by the militia and 19 years later he came across again Mestrinho at the 1982 elections for the governorship.

In late 70s and early 80s he made a career in the Department of Roads and Highways. Then by instructions of Mestrinho, Amazonino became Mayor of Manaus from 1983 to 1985. During this first period in office, Amazonino urbanized the barrios (districts), some of them more than 30 years old, paving 600 streets in only two years. He also created “My Son” project for aiding children at risk and other projects as “Espiral” and the “Restaurant for the Small Entrepreneur”.

From 1987 to 1990 Amazonino was Governor of the state of Amazonas. During this period he laid the foundations for the development of the Parintins Festival. In 1988 the Amazonino Mendes Cultural and Sport Centre – Boubódromo de Parintins with capacity for 35,000 people was constructed.

Works were carried out in Manaus and throughout the state. In Manaus he continued urbanizing several districts and created a new one called Amazonino Mendes, also the Armando Mendes district where tenths of houses were constructed.

Mayor Mendes has also constructed two housing estates and extended others. He has also restored the Amazonas Theater and the Reservatorio do Mocó (water storage) both considered as cultural patrimony of the state.

In the social realm, he promoted an ambitious program to combat hunger supplying minimum basic breadbasket of goods to thousands of families in need which was maintained during all his period in office.

In 1990, Mr. Mendes was elected senator with the highest proportional vote in the country. In the senate he defended Manaus’ free-trade zone.

In 1992 Amazonino was again elected mayor of Manaus. During 1993 and 1994 he promoted the revitalization of the city, and constructed the first two viaducts and several recreation areas. At the end of 1993 he inaugurated the tourist development of Ponta Negra beach, apart from establishing the SOS Manaus, the first emergency rescue service.

In 1994 he left the mayoralty to run for his second term as governor of the state for the period of 1994-1998. He laid the foundation for the revitalization of the state’s economy; encouraged the large-scale agriculture in the state’s south. In Manaus he constructed the hospital João Lúcio and children’s hospital next to it; the children’s integral attention centre (CAICS) and the elderly integral attention centre (CAIMI); the renovation and extension of hospital Adriano Jorge and the Hospital Francisca Mendes was concluded, which was intended to be a high complexity hospital.

Regarding education, he created the University of the State of Amazonas (UEA), granting the opportunity to study not only to Manaus’ but to all the state’s young through the construction of various campuses, until then restricted to the three campuses of the Federal University of Amazonas.

In 1998 he was re-elected governor of the state, a post that he occupied from 1999 to 2002.

In the year 2009, in his third term as Mayor of Manaus (2009-2013), Amazonino was granted the Americas’ Award for the Excellency in the Public Service: Recognition for Professional Trajectory.

Mayor Amazonino Mendes is married to Tarcila Prado de Negreiros Mendes with three children.

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and runner-ups
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In 2004: Winner: Edi Rama (Tirana); Runner-up: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico City}; In third place - Walter Veltroni (Rome)
In 2005: Winner – Dora Bakoyannis (Athens); Runner-up - Hazel McCallion (Mississauga); In third place - Alvaro Arzú (Guatemala City)
In 2006: Winner – John So (Melbourne); Runner up – Job Cohen (Amsterdam); In third place - Stephen Reed (Harrisburg)
In 2008: Winner – Helen Zille (Cape Town); Runner up - Elmar Ledergerber (Zurich); In third place - Leopoldo López (Chacao)