05 August 2009

Centro de Convivencia Familiar DIF

New York City has its Central Park and Chicago has its Lincoln and Grant Parks and Mexico City has its Alameda Park but in Irapuato, Guanajuato we have a park complex that in my mind is as good as any of these and in fact it is even better because it is nearby and the others are all far away. When we go and take a nice walk in the park, it is where we like to go. Our park is commonly called the Convivencia Familiar or "Gathering Place of Families". It is part of a national system of parks and family recreational facilities called "El Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (SNDIF)" or in English "The National System for the Complete Development of the Family". Most people just refer to it as "el DIF" (pronounced "ehl DEEF").

The history of DIF goes back to 1929 when a group of women in Mexico City formed an organization called "El Programa de Gota de Leche (The Drop of Milk Program) to distribute milk to needy children. This led to the formation of an organization named "La Asociación Nacional de Protección a la Infancia (INPI)" (National Association for the Protection of Childhood) in 1961 which began receiving help from the "Lotería Nacional para la Beneficencia Pública" (National Lottery for Public Benefit) which is now called "Lotería Nacional Para la Asistencia Pública" (LOTENAL). In 1968 "La Institución Mexicana de Asistencia a la Niñez (IMAN)" (The Mexican Institution for the Assistance of Children) was created and and the scope of care of INPI was expanded to include helping orphans, abandoned children, unwanted children, disabled children, and children with certain diseases. In 1976 another organization called "El Instituto Mexicano Para la Infancia y la Familia(IMPI)", (The Mexican Institute for Childhood and the Family) was created and in 1977 it was merged with the aforementioned "La Institución Mexicana de Asistencia a la Niñez (IMAN) to form "El Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (SNDIF)" or just plain "DIF". The Mexican president who is credited with the formation of DIF is President José López Portillo y Pacheco who was president from 1976 to 1982. His wife, Carmen Romano Nolk de Portillo, took an active roll in DIF and became the National Director. Since that time and following her lead, the National Director of DIF has traditionally been the First Lady of Mexico. Local chapters of the DIF report to municipal presidents and governors and often their spouses head up the local chapters.

Our Irapuato DIF Convivencia Familiar is very beautiful. It was formed in the early 1940's from a tree nursery called "El Vivero Revolución. That is a very interesting story in itself. Many of Mexico's leaders in the 1930's and 40's were young men at the time of the Mexican Revolution and they were known collectively as "The Sons of the Revolution". They believed in the Revolution and worked very had to make life better for the average Mexican. One president in particular, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, who was president from 1934 to 1940 ,was very progressive and so were many of the people who served with him in government positions. The governor of the State of Guanajuato, Enrique Fernández Martínez (Interim Governor 1935 - 1937, Governor 1939 - 1943), was that type of person. He did a lot of progressive things for his state. It just so happens that he was particularly fond of Irapuato and spent a considerable amount of time here. By the way, he was also one of the principal founders of the Instituto Allende in San Miguel. Before the Revolution, the State of Guanajuato had an abundance of trees and wooded areas but the period of upheaval brought on by the Revolution and the growing population wreaked havoc on the trees. For one thing, the main source of fuel for cooking was wood and charcoal. In the late thirties the government began to improve the roads so that things like oil and gas could be transported everywhere to be used for cooking. In order to reforest the land the government established tree nurseries called "viveros" where seedlings could be raised in "almácigas" or "semilleros" (seedbeds) for later transplanting. Governor Enrique Fernández Martínez established a vivero called "Vivero Revolución" on the outskirts of Irapuato in 1937 but the land was larger in area than it need be for the purpose intended so just a few years later the vivero was moved to another location in the municipality and placed alongside a community called "Rancho Grande". The original Vivero Revolución was transferred to the City of Irapuato for municipal and recreational development.

The first thing that was built on the land was a Bullfighting stadium in 1940 called the "Plaza de Toros Revolución". In 1942 they built a fútbol stadium right next to it called "El Estadio Revolución" that seats 10,000 people and was one of the first stadiums in Mexico to be built entirely of reinforced concrete. During this time the Convivencia Familiar was being developed as well as the "Prepatoria de Irapuato" which is the High School that my wife Gina attended. They also built a compound for the local chapter of "El Lienzo Charro", the Mexican Rodeo. In 1969 they built the "Estadio Irapuato", a fútbol stadium that seats 24, 000 people. It was renamed "Estadio Sergio León Chávez" in 1990 after the president of the Club Irapuato who gave the impetus to its construction.

Okay, that was the preamble. Now let's get down to the details. The admission to the Convivencia Familiar is two pesos for adults and one peso for children. This gives you access to:

An 800 meter jogging and walking track
An open air theater.
Bicycle Safety Course
Two basketball courts
Three volleyball courts
A surfaced fútbol court
Two dirt fútbol fields
A gymnastics area
A splash pool for little kids.
A swimming pool
Play areas with swing sets, teeter-totters, etc., for kids
Go-cart track
Concession stands
Picnic areas with barbecue grills

In addition there are a whole lot of nice places to sit and watch the world go by. Just take a look at the pictures below and you will get a sense of how nice a park it is.



Leslie Harris said...

Muy bonito! And how nice that its close enough for you to visit. We have something similar called "La Unidad Deportiva". Unfortunately it's on the other side of town, so we don't get to visit as often as we'd like.

YayaOrchid said...

Everything is so green and lush! So peaceful and beautiful. I like it!

Chrissy y Keith said...

How very nice. I love the history as well.

Susan said...

Thank you for posting about DIF. I'm an advocate for public recreation, so it's learn that a program like this exisits Mexico. Now, I'll have to find out if there are any DIF parks and/or community centers in Merida!

GlorV1 said...

mucho verde y me gusta las tires. :D

Anonymous said...

Los sabados te esperamos de 8:30 a 9:30 para las clases de aerobics con los adultos mayores....
A mover el esqueleto

Anonymous said...

Te esperamos los sabado de 8:30 a 9:30 am a practicar Aerobics con los adultos mayores.
Es un programa que existe desde hace 9 años en coordinacion con AARAEG y los grupos de ayuda mutua del Cento de Salud Torres Landa...
A mover el esqueleto Bob

Bob Mrotek said...

Okay, Señor Googleinstein. Allá nos vemos. Gracias para la invitación :)

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.