by Enrique Carballo, executive secretary, Belize Mayors’ Association
My first ICMA Annual Conference was an eye-opening experience for me as a representative of CAMCAYCA, the Confederation of Municipalities of Central America and the Caribbean, an ICMA international affiliate. I had the pleasure of attending along with Mayor Khalid Belisle of Belmopan, president of the Belize Mayors’ Association.
Beyond any doubt, the well-planned event was impressive, highly informative, and inspiring. It highlighted the international vision, guidance, and effective on-going work and objectives of ICMA. It is clear that this association has earned the respect of its members from more than 25 countries, thus forming a network and linkages in creating, managing, and developing communities around the world, resulting in better service and a better life for residents.
We reported at the ICMA International Committee meeting on CAMCAYCA’s work plan, which has three main objectives: (1) climate change; (2) violence prevention; and (3) local economic development. It was inspiring and energizing to hear participants from Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Romania, and other countries report on what they have been and will be doing to make improvements in their communities. Our region, Central America and the Caribbean, is no different, and we must endeavor to work toward our objectives, which are common to Latin America and other countries around the world.
We found the following sessions particularly relevant to our region and to CAMCAYCA’s objectives:
1. "Ethics and Corruption." This is a major issue in most, if not all, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and we should all work to eliminate this disease, which is rampant in our countries, through effective and honest leadership, accountability, and political reform.
2. "Power Imbalances: Implementing Integrity in the Workplace." This will make our communities more progressive. And we need to treat each other with respect and equality since we all want to achieve a better life for our community.
3. "Big Expectations for High Service Levels on a Small-Town Budget." We need to be resourceful and encourage community participation while focusing on innovative ideas and effective management.
4. "Puerto Rico Recovery: The Role for Professional Local Government Management." CAMCAYCA member Mickey Espada, representing Puerto Rico, reported on the aftermath and recovery efforts of the devastating hurricane Maria. Espada was a major player in making recovery efforts possible through networking, linkages, and actual hands-on activities.
From our point of view, this conference was enormously successful, and we found it productive, fruitful, and enjoyable. We also had the opportunity to see and enjoy the “Charm City” of Baltimore. Our experience would not have been possible without the support of Rolando Rodriguez, mayor of Cartago, Costa Rica, and president of CAMCAYCA, and members of the ICMA staff, including Carlos Loria-Chaves and Isabelle Bully-Omictin.
Editor’s Note: CAMCAYCA has representation from municipal associations in Central America and the Caribbean. ICMA has been working with CAMCAYCA through the AMUPREV project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help promote municipal-led violence prevention programs throughout the region. After the AMUPREV project ends, CAMCAYCA will continue the information-sharing and activities initiated under the project in the region.