In just two years, Chiapas State has seen real changes take shape.
Manuel Velasco Coello, the young governor of Chiapas, and his team have already achieved significant progress in the two years since he took office with an agenda based on sustainable growth and welfare.
One of the most important achievements is certainly the record on safety. “Chiapas has become one of the safest states in Mexico,” says Mr. Velasco Coello. “The most important factors, apart from the security policy being carried out at the federal level, is that we have set up a new municipal police that it is better paid, better trained and better equipped. We have strong crime prevention policies in which citizens are encouraged to participate. We have reclaimed urban public spaces that had been taken over by delinquency, and we campaign against alcohol and drug abuse. Also, we receive strong support from the federal level to design and implement our crime prevention policies and programs.”
In the area of transport infrastructure, the state government is particularly proud of the new international airport of Palenque. “This is a strategic equipment for the state,” says the governor. With a price tag of $19.7 million, it is being paid jointly by the federal state and Chiapas. Obviously, this equipment will go a long way to foster tourism in and around the famous Maya site.
As a member of the Green Party (Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico, PVEM), Mr. Velasco Coello has a solid pro-environment policy, a theme particularly important in a state which boasts the greatest biodiversity of the country. “It is very important for us to care for and preserve our rainforest,” he says. “We have a comprehensive environmental policy that includes a curricular program in schools, which was designed with the help of environmental experts. Indeed the best way to care for the environment is through education and awareness raising.” It is to be noted that this educational program, titled Educating on Environmental Responsibility (Educar con Responsabilidad Ambiental, ERA) has been selected by authorities as a subject for the first grade of secondary school.
Regarding agriculture, a key sector for Chiapas, a leading project is the creation of an agro-industrial park, which will bear the brand name “Chiapas”. The initial investment of $29.3 million is co-financed by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food. In addition, the project has already obtained total investments of $16.1 million from the private sector.
The agricultural policy also includes initiatives to boost the all-important coffee sector. The program for the renovation of coffee plantations has already benefitted 40,000 producers. The creation of the Chiapas Institute of Coffee (Incafech) is another important initiative in this sector, in which investment has so far reached $39.3 million, including investment from the coffee federation.
Concerning this sector, the Chiapas brand “will help producers to advertise and commercialize their products on the national and international markets,” says Mr. Velasco Coello. “Our ultimate goal is to see producers getting more profit, without the abuse of intermediaries.”
Regarding health, the groundbreaking program “Wellbeing from heart to heart” (Bienestar, de corazón a corazón), seeks to provide help to single mothers through financial support, health services, education, empowerment for self-employment, and micro-credits.
Another important landmark is the new 180-bed Dr. Jesús Gilberto Gómez Maza hospital, which is expected to carry out some 193,000 medical examinations a year. This represents a 57% increase in health services in the state.
Also of note is the construction of 650 new outdoors sports centers planned for 2014. The objective of the state government is to reach 1,000 new gyms by the end of the six-year mandate.
Last but not least, the state of Chiapas recorded 5.2% growth in the first quarter of 2014, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). Growth is mainly based on the industrial sector (20.4%) and particularly the construction sector, with the service sector growing by 0.5%.
Such projects and results are becoming the hallmarks of an impressive couple of years for the governor and his proactive policies making a tangible difference to life in the state.