In presence of the UCLG President and Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, as a special guest, the 6th Congress of the Latin-American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Associations (FLACMA, the Latin-American Section of UCLG) was opened on 21 March 2012. The Congress gathered more than 1,500 participants from more than 23 countries of Latin America, as well as representatives from other regions.
In his opening speech, Kadir Topbas transmitted a message of fraternity and union. He reminded of the important contribution of the municipal movement to the building of democracy in Latin America. He also invited local authorities of the region to strengthen their commitment in setting up UCLG’s world agenda.
Both the President of the Chilean Association of Municipalities and Mayor of Vitacura, Mr. Raúl Torrealba, and the Mayor of Santiago, Mr. Pablo Zalaquett, emphasized in their welcome speeches the relevance of local authorities’ role as legitimate governments within their territories. In order to comply with these functions, the aim of the Chilean municipalities is the "agenda plus 30", i.e. increase the current 12% of local expenses in the State budget up to 20% by 2020 and 30% by 2030, in order to reach the levels of developed countries.
The Foreign Secretary Alfredo Moreno, who read a message on behalf of the President of Chile Sebastián Piñera, stated that "the municipal governments are strategic partners for national governments in order to promote the integration of the Latin-American continent, since they are the ones which, in reality, are connected to the local level and build up alliances that make them active partners in the relations between the stakeholders of different countries".
All the speakers had great expectations from the Congress, in particular to help exchange experiences that allow moving forward the processes of decentralization in Latin America. During these three days, the following issues were discussed: the role of local governments in a globalized world, rights and participation of women in the local government, environmental management, local economic development, prevention of disaster risks, municipal associative movement, decentralization and local self-government. Josep Roig, UCLG Secretary General, took part in the panel "the future of Latin-American municipalities".
On the eve of the opening of the Congress, the Executive Bureau of FLACMA met and agreed on important issues: the representation of FLACMA before UNACLA, the participation of Latin-American local authorities in Rio+20, the launching of work for the realization of the 3rd Global Report on Decentralization in Latin America, the venue for the 7th FLACMA Congress, among other issues.