A Triangle of Sun, Sand, and Innovation: Sister Cities in Argentina, Florida, and Spain Meet to Strengthen Relations

Marianne Winfield, Executive Director, Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities

Oscar García, Chair, Sister Cities Mar del Plata, Argentina

Left Photo — Fort Lauderdale, FL, Upper Right Photo — Mar del Plata, Argentina, Lower Right Photo — Mataró, Spain.

In February 2017, Oscar García, Chair of Sister Cities in Mar del Plata, Argentina, was appointed by Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities International (GFLSCI) as liaison for GFLSCI between Fort Lauderdale, Argentina and Spain, and recently took a trip to Spain to talk about GFLSCI programs and initiatives.

Mr. García was received at the US Embassy in Madrid by Mr. Christopher Quade, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy, where Mr. García introduced Mr. Quade to several Sister Cities initiatives that GFLSCI is developing around the world, as well as ones specifically focused in Fort Lauderdale’s Sister City of Mataró. Mr. Quade gave strong support to the programs and was invited in a letter of introduction, sent by Marianne Winfield, GFLSCI Executive Director, to take advantage of the possibilities and help that GFLSCI offers in the mission of Citizen Diplomacy.

Mr. Christopher Quade, Cultural Attaché in the United State Embassy of Madrid, receiving the Fort Lauderdale Presentation from Mr. Oscar García.

Mr. García also visited Mataró to evaluate the network between Fort Lauderdale, Mar Del Plata and Mataró while exploring opportunities for new initiatives. While there, he discovered many similarities between the cities in Technology, Education and Marine fields.

Mataró is a city just North of Barcelona with a great historical background — its history extends back to the Roman Empire. Innovation has been a constant in Mataró’s history: it was the first city in Spain that had a railroad in 1848, as well as a strong textile industry with many metalworking establishments that developed textile machinery. It has a beautiful port and wide beaches that are worth visiting for the views. Mataró is the capital city of the county of Maresme with a population of 125,000.

A beach in Mataró

Mataró has been Sister Cities with Fort Lauderdale since February 2014 and facilitated several relationship-building activities including the visit of Commissioner Dean Trantalis in August 2015 and the Direct Investment/Trade Mission from Fort Lauderdale in Sept. 2015 led by Ivan Mutis and Marina Besadalombana.

On March 6, 2017, Mr. García met with Mrs. Dolors Guillén i Mena, Councillor for Economic Development and Innovation of the Ayuntament (Town Hall) of Mataró, who was representing the Mataró Mayor, Mr. David Bote Paz. Mrs. Guillén received a letter from the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Mr. Jack Seiler to the Mayor of Mataró, supporting the GFLSCI Citizen Diplomacy mission and inviting Mayor Bote Paz to visit Fort Lauderdale and expand the relation between both Sister Cities.

Mr. Oscar García with Mrs. Dolors Guillén i Mena, Councillor for Economic Development and Innovation during their meeting,

Mrs. Guillén also received a letter from Mrs. Marianne Winfield for Mayor Bote Paz acknowledging the strong relationship between Mataró and Fort Lauderdale. During the meeting, Mrs. Guillén and Mr. García discussed several developments in Mataró in technology, industry and tourism industries.

Mrs. Guillén is the President of the TecnoCampus, Mataró­Maresme Technology Campus. She is personally involved in the development of new technologies at TecnoCampus in several areas including smart clothing, health care related developments and business administration. A great interest arose in the possibility of interchanging students between the Sister Cities and enlarging the collaboration in education with Broward College and Mar del Plata Universities. The Ports industry was also discussed, and since Fort Lauderdale is a world leader in port business, the possibility of establishing a collaboration in this area was discussed.

These meetings highlighted the importance of Citizen Diplomacy in developing new and renewed relations between the Sister Cities, and generated excitement for innovative partnership initiatives to come.

To learn more about Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities, visit www.gflsci.org.