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By David Gaddis Smith
Former Tijuana Mayor Federico Valdés Martínez, who died Saturday at age 72, was honored Thursday in an hourlong ceremony at city hall. Well over 1,000 were in attendance.
Mayor Carlos Bustamante paid homage to Valdés' humor and his good works.
Former mayors in attendance were Fernando Márquez Arce (1974-77), Xicoténcatl Leyva Mortera (1977-80, and later governor), René Treviño Arredondo (1983-86) and Kurt Honold, who filled in for Jorge Hank Rhon in 2007 after Hank resigned to run for governor. Hank was unable to attend because he was in El Hongo prison in Tecate after having been arrested early Saturday on suspicion of possessing illegal weapons. Bustamante, Valdés, Márquez Arce, Leyva Mortera, Treviño, Honold and Hank are all members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). In the photo, Valdés' widow, Carmen Aida Palazuelos de Valdés, flanked by their children, Federico and Ada Gabriela Valdés Palazuelos, holds a plaque she received from the mayor.
Rosa Aurora Martínez (left), (also known as Rosaura) who headed the the city's social development department during Valdés' 1986-89 term, also spoke, and talked about how Valdés walked fast, had a big heart and developed sister-city programs with other municipalities. She noted that Valdés had handed over power to the first National Action Party mayor of Tijuana, Carlos Montejo Favela, in 1989. On Tuesday, Martínez gave a speech of a far different sort: she had fired up a crowd protesting Hank's detention by the federal government, which is run by the National Action Party (PAN). Hank rally story.
Although Thursday's memorial played tribute to Valdés having been a member of the PRI, the ceremony was not an overtly partisan event. None of the the six PAN mayors who governed Tijuana attended, however. Baja California government deputy minister Gustavo Ley Ruiz, who represented former PAN Mayor and current Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, did attend and sat onstage.
Valdés' remains were cremated and a small box containing them formed part of the ceremony. A Mass held Wednesday for Valdés at the Iglesia del Carmen in the Colonia Cacho had an overflow crowd.
Jerry García, 69, said Thursday after the ceremony that he had fond memories growing up with Valdés, who was born in Tijuana in 1938. García said he once participated in a soap-box derby with Valdés. He said Valdés' sense of humor extended to making jokes about his missing leg, which had to be amputated several years ago. Photographer Alfredo Martínez said that the mayor once came out to Martínez's Infonavit Río neighborhood and helped sweep up there with a broom, and also ensured that the neighborhood got street lights.
Federico Valdés as represented on a video screen at the event; the balconies at city hall were filled with people standing to watch and listen; 800 seats were placed in the open interior of the city hall.
From left, former mayors Xicoténcatl Leyva Mortera, Rene Treviño,
Fernando Márquez Arce and Kurt Honold attended. Leyva has been
mentioned recently as a possible PRI Senate candidate next year.
He told El Mexicano, however, "I have no aspiration for any political office."
It was announced at the memorial service that the march being played
in the above YouTube video was dedicated to Valdés in 1986 by
Tijuana municipal band director Manuel Bravo in honor of Valdés being
the first Tijuana-born mayor of the city.
The memorial story was widely covered in Tijuana's newspapers and online media: