Salvador Gándara, Mayor of Villa Nueva, Guatemala

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Salvador Gándara
Mayor of Villa Nueva, Guatemala

11 March 2008: Salvador Gándara Gaitán assumed his position as Mayor of Villa Nueva in January 2000. He was re-elected to a second term in the position in 2003, which permitted him to continue his job and projects, as well as to establish new goals. The Mayor has been shortlisted for the 2008 World Mayor Award.

At university, Gándara studied business administration, and took several courses at the inter-American Centre of Political Management in Miami, Florida. Salvador Gándara has enjoyed a varied career in the Guatemalan public services, which began in 1986 during the administration of Alvaro Arzú as the Mayor of Guatemala. Initially he was responsible for the functions of the municipal police and the direction of the auxiliary mayors.

In 1988, he took over the administrative management of the Municipality of Guatemala and in 1989 he directed the programme of Food for Jobs, whose function was to bring about the development of the community resources through employment, including food as payment. This was possible thanks to the donations of friendly countries and the enthusiasm of the community leaders and Gándara.

From 1991 to 1995, he worked in projects to assist neighbourhoods, and this area allowed him to experience the basic essentials that the population require, such as drainage, pavement streets, water, etc.

In 1996, during the government of the President Alvaro Arzú, he was General Secretary of the Social Well-Being Office of the Presidency of the Republic. During his period of office, he promoted the social reinsertion of young people and children with criminal records in both of the the national juvenile correctional centers for girls and boys, best known as "Gaviotas" and "Gorriones".

Between January 1996 to December 1999 he was Vice-Secretary of the State in charge of public security. During this period, some changes were made in the then National Police, reforming it into the National Civil Police and founding its academy. The latter was designed, built and established in 59 days, with capacity to have 1,200 candidates. He also participated in bilateral agreements with INTERPOL at a regional level and promoted the creation of Local Citizen Boards.

In January 2000, he became the Mayor of the Municipality of Villa Nueva serving his first term. He was re-elected for a second term on 15 January 2004, and re-elected for third consecutive term in September 2007. In his projects as Mayor of Villa Nueva, stands out the creation and strength of a competitive program for his municipality, which looks at the creation of ideal conditions for the investment and generation of employment; infrastructure projects such as the construction of the water treatment plants, streets, sidewalks, parks, gardening and drainage systems."

His priority during this period was to factor in suggestions made by the population of Villa Nueva: security, education, health and local economic development.

He also created the Municipal Traffic Police, municipal library, execution of plans for the prevention of violence and city security, solving traffic problems, permanent civic programmes, dental and medical clinics, vocational training, and others which broke the mould of traditional work outlines of municipalities around the country, which generally are exclusively dedicated to infrastructure projects.

Mayor Gándara, also realised weekly visits to educational, public and private institutions named "Civic Mondays", in which he promotes civic values, an ideal opportunity to interact with the students of all ages.

In addition, as part of his philosophical approach is the promotion of values and of cultural, social and sport activities in the municipality, which are the Child Mayor for a Day, the Inter Schools Sports Games in Villa Nueva (with the participation of more than 22,000 youths), Mini Olympics for pre-school and sport programmes for adults.

Gándara believes that "you have to listen so you can serve the people", and he maintains constant communication with the neighbourhoods through visits to the field and coordinated tours by the Work Management of the Municipality of Villa Nueva, as well as the direct contact and reunions with the community leaders and neighbourhoods that visit the city hall.

World Mayor 2023