The city has actors depicting indigenous Mayan people playing their ancient ball game every Friday at the Cathedral in the Plaza Grande.
The city has actors depicting indigenous Mayan people playing their ancient ball game every Friday at the Cathedral in the Plaza Grande.

Mérida, Yucatán — When the designation “Cultural Capital of the Americas” was established by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals, Mérida was the first to be the awarded that honor, in 2000. Now, the city council unanimously approved the initiative of Mayor Mauricio Vila Dosal work to bring that title back home again in 2017.

The Cultural Capital of the Americas, established in 1998, aims to promote inter-American integration from the cultural field, contribute to a better awareness between the peoples of the Americas, while respecting their national and regional diversity, highlighting the common cultural heritage.

The International Bureau of Cultural Capitals, established in 1985, promotes international cultural capital cities and establishes new bridges of cooperation with Europe. It is accredited to the Organization of American States (OAS) and has recognition of Latin American and European parliaments.

To win would bring vast media attention throughout Latin America, the U.S. and Europe. The goal: increased tourism, and with that, new and better paying jobs, the mayor of Mérida said. To this day, the 2000 designation is mentioned in guide books inviting tourists to Mérida.

But about 10 Latin American cities are expected to be giving Mérida some competition.

To date, 17 capital cities in Latin America have received this honor by the Barcelona-based bureau. No cities are on the list twice:

  • 2000: Mérida, Mexico
  • 2001: Iquique, Chile
  • 2002: Maceio, Brazil
  • 2003: Panama City, Panama, and Curitiba, Brazil (tied)
  • 2004: Santiago, Chile
  • 2005: Guadalajara, Mexico
  • 2006: Cordoba, Argentina
  • 2007: Cuzco, Peru
  • 2008: Brasilia, Brazil
  • 2009: Asuncion, Paraguay
  • 2010: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • 2011: Quito, Ecuador
  • 2012: Sao Luis, Brazil
  • 2013: Barranquilla, Colombia
  • 2014: Colima, Mexico
  • 2015: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  • 2016: Valdivia, Chile

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