Médecins sans Frontières estimates that there are one million people in Guatemala City living in the streets or in slum conditions. Many are victims of the civil war, which traumatised the country during the 1980s and early 90s as well refugees from rural poverty. (Photo: Pierre Violle)



FRONT PAGE
SiteSearch
About us
Directories


Guatemala City
Guatemala 2020
Guatemala City TransMetro
Green mega cities
Brasilia, Capital of Brazil
Mexican road building dispute
Participatory budgeting
Direct democracy
Sustainable communities
Urbanisation - threats and benefits

New Urbanism
Slow Cities
The world's costliest cities
The world's most liveable cities
The world's largest cities
Urban slums


City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa | Events |


Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa are competing for the annual World Mayor Award. More


City Mayors ranks the world’s largest as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More


City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More


City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More


City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world and questions them about their achievements, policies and aims. More


City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More


City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More


City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More


City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More


City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More


City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More


City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More


City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More


City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More


City Mayors invites readers to write short stories about people in cities around the world. More


City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More


City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More


City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More

Guatemala City authorities push for
environmentally responsible growth

by Vanessa Plihal, Central America Correspondent

6 June 2007: After the devastating earthquake of 1773, Guatemala City was relocated to where it is today.  In 1776, after an arduous task of rebuilding, the new city was founded and dedicated to the Virgin of Asunción.  Guatemala de La Asunción, or “Guate” as the locals call it, is a city where the past and the future meet in equilibrium. Today Guatemala City is the largest and fastest growing city in Central America and one determined to avoid past planning  mistakes.

The statistical reports from the last population census, published in 2002, show that 1.7 million Guatemalans live and work in the city. This census includes the people of the three other nearby municipalities who commute to the City of Guatemala for various purposes. 

As the country’s population grows at an annual rate of 2.6 per cent, so does the need for living and working space. The result is an environment greatly affected by both gasoline emissions and migration from the rural and suburban areas.  Over the past 12 years, the living spatial area has grown at a rate of 4 per cent annually (2002 population census report).

In relation to residential and commercial areas, it is obviously necessary for growth to be planned in an orderly fashion. The Territorial Urban Plan seeks to undertake construction both efficiently and equitably, paving the way towards a ‘win-win’ situation for investors, the community and the environment.  This plan will prevent construction in high-risk areas and avoid damage both to the environment and social cohesion. The urban plan will come into effect in the ensuing months and will endeavour to involve the participation of most neighbourhoods, regardless of size or location. The essential objective is to create more pleasant spaces in which to live and work. 

Municipal authorities have stated that the whole project must be even more efficient and specific than the objectives that already exist under municipal land policies. The complex difficulties of Guatemala City cannot be resolved with only one actor. They require a united effort from all concerned with regard to territory, population and government planning. The intention is that the new Guatemala City will emerge as an environmentally responsible city with communities interested in, and partaking in, the objective of a culturally rich place where people will enjoy an improved quality of life.

The Municipality has gathered the essential information with which to implement this ambitious plan. Among other things, there will be controls on construction in high-risk areas and the protection of the natural environment and historic buildings, streets and squares. There will be sensible and planned construction, with the participation of citizens, in areas where adequate transportation systems exist. The project envisages public places with a high urban vitality, benefiting investors and property owners as well as economic competitiveness, urban security and social solidarity.

If the co-operation of all concerned is achieved, then all will benefit - especially in relation to land use and essential services such as water, sewerage, roads and public open spaces.

Clearly, since 1776 there have been great changes - from the noise of horse-drawn carriages and ringing church bells to the honking horns of modern transport. Now the way is open for this ‘brave new world’ ready to embrace the cultural diversity of a new and great Guatemala.


While the Guatemala's downtown area compares well with those of North American cities, the Guatemala 2020 development plan aims to bring 'western' living conditions to all parts of the city


Introducing Álvaro Arzú, Mayor of Guatemala City
Ranked third in World Mayor 2005, Guatemala City Mayor Álvaro Arzú can rightly claim to have played a major role in the Central American country’s transition from war-torn state to modern nation during his two decades in politics.
 
Born in 1946, Arzú hails from one of the five families in the European elite that have long dominated Guatemalan politics, so two stints as mayor of the capital and even presidential office would seem par for the course.

He began his career as Director of the Guatemalan Tourist Institute (INGUAT) in 1978 and was first elected Mayor of Guatemala City in 1981 on behalf of the Guatemalan Christian Democrats (DCG), only for the election results to be annulled following a military coup.

The new regime then offered to install him as Mayor anyhow, though to his credit he refused the offer.  However, in 1985 he was elected mayor again, standing on behalf of his Civic Committee Plan for National Advancement, and was able to take office.

In 1989, the Civic Committee Plan became the National Advancement Party (PAN).  During his term of office, Mr Arzú was credited with making progress in tackling corruption in public life and improving the city’s infrastructure. More