How was the League created?
Exchange of mayors (2017-2018)
After the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, the 78 mayors of Puerto Rico mobilized. From San Juan to Hormigueros, mayors helped restore electricity and water service, distributed supplies, cleared and repaired local and state highways, and conveyed the needs of their communities to state and federal government entities in charge of the disaster response.
Recognizing the key role of mayors in the immediate response and long-term recovery from hurricanes, now-former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu teamed up with the Open Society Foundations to launch the Exchange in February 2018.
Between February and September 2018,
24 visits were made for the 27 participating municipalities, and a two-day technical assistance workshop was held for mayors in
San Juan, attended by 17 municipalities and more than 40 experts in disaster recovery, development, planning and fiscal management.
The objectives of the exchange were:
Direct assistance: provide the mayors of Puerto Rico with a direct line to their counterparts in the United States to request advice, consultation and exchange of technical knowledge to address the fiscal, economic and reconstruction challenges;
Create advocates for Puerto Rico in the United States to amplify the needs of recovery: establish visibility and urgency behind support for Puerto Rico in the
Municipalities participating in the Mayors Exchange Program.
NON-PARTISAN COALITION (2018-2019)
In June 2018, a group of mayors from Puerto Rico who had participated in the Exchange program formed a working group to create a non-partisan coalition of municipalities. The group's members, including mayors from the two main political parties of Puerto Rico, held regular work sessions to develop a platform for long-term inter-municipal collaboration and opening uniform and fluid dialogue with other leaders in Puerto Rico and in the United States, with a focus on post-Maria recovery efforts.
The coalition of mayors benefited from direct technical assistance from experts, based both in Puerto Rico and the United States (including participants in the Exchange with experience in the establishment and management of similar coalitions). At the end of 2018, the group solicited the support of Fundación Agenda Ciudadana to convene an historic municipal summit on November 1. The First Convening of Mayors: Reunited for Puerto Rico, held at the San Juan Convention Center, was attended by 46 municipalities and touched on several themes central to the development of a unifying agenda for municipalities.
Following this meeting, the coalition mayors secured the support of the Ford Foundation. Together with the Open Society Foundations, Ford pledged to support mayors in building a formal organization. This organization, the League of Puerto Rican Cities, was formally launched on October 4, 2019.