Young. Charming. Well- spoken . Charismatic. Thirtyeight year old Sergio Massa, the Mayor of Tigre, Argentina, who has already served as Chief of Staff to Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, visited Aventura on July 16th for a full agenda of meetings scheduled by the Aventura Marketing Council (AMC). Mayor Massa was greeted by such comments as “an outstanding gentleman”, “so respectful of others,” and ”a man of the people.” Particularly memorable, however, were statements that “if Sergio Massa were running for President of the United States, I would vote for him!” and “He is the John F. Kennedy of Argentina!”
A Bal Harbour police escort brought Mayor Massa to the beautiful Aventura home of Rubin Salant and Trina London for an elegant breakfast and informative boat tour with AMC Chairman Cliff Schulman, Weiss Serota Helfman; AMC President Elaine Adler; Aventura Commissioners Billy Joel and Luz Weinberg; Jorge Arevalo, ONE Bal Harbour Resort; and AMC member and Aventura resident Daniel Korn, Alters, Boldt, Brown, Rash, Culmo. A meeting at Fairmont Turnberry Isle followed with Argentina-born Iván Negri guiding Mayor Massa on a tour of the beautiful facilities, including the Presidential Suite.
Mayor Massa was then received at the Government Center by Mayor Susan Gottlieb, City Manager Eric Soroka and Chief of Police Steve Steinberg, with whom Mayor Massa shared that “Aventura was well-known as a most innovative city,” and that he was here “to learn from Aventura” as Tigre is also a city on the water. Issues discussed included security (under Mayor Massa’s tenure, Tigre has installed security cameras on street corners and hired off-duty policemen to supplement police protection in Tigre), red-light cameras, flooding and water management (both Aventura and Tigre are built on reclaimed swamp land), municipal parks, schools and cultural centers. Mayor Massa was also impressed by the plaque in the Government Center given to the City of Aventura in celebration of the many Argentine businesspeople and their families who have made their homes in Aventura.
Mayor Gottlieb provided a guided tour of the City’s new Aventura Arts & Cultural Center with General Manager Steve Clark. They also visited the Recreation Center and the Aventura City of Excellence School (ACES), where Mayor Massa had the opportunity to view the latest technology in the classrooms, and meet with a lunchroom full of summer camp kids who asked questions in Spanish.
Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus hosted a memorable luncheon, where President Brian Kettler and Rabbi Mario Rojzman (originally from Argentina) welcomed the mayor and many Argentine business leaders from Greater Aventura. Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman and Aventura Commissioners Bob Diamond and Zev Auerbach were also in attendance. Mayor Massa spoke movingly about the 16th anniversary commemoration of the AMIA terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires and how the failure to bring the perpetrators to justice remained “an open wound for Argentina.” He also spoke about Tigre’s investment opportunities in both industry and residential development (“with new industries and new homes being built in Tigre every day”) and where he was continuing to promote more infrastructure and security “because that is what the people want.” In closing, Rabbi Mario Rojzman noted that lunch guests could very well have been in the presence of a future President of Argentina.
A visit to the Michael Ann Russell–JCC followed, where Executive Director Gary Bomzer received Mayor Massa on behalf of the JCC, which is the Miami partner of Tigre’s Club Náutico Hacoaj, Argentina’s largest Jewish country club. Both are part of a student exchange program (“Culanu”) that has teen camp counselors from Miami’s JCC training in Tigre’s Hacoaj and viceversa. The JCC flag was presented to Mayor Massa in front of hundreds of campers, after which Mayor Massa visited the JCC’s sports facilities and met with the teen camp counselors who had spent time at Hacoaj.
The amazing day ended on the set of Andres Oppenheimer’s television show “Oppenheimer Presenta,” where Mayor Massa was a panelist in a discussion with other regional experts about security in Latin America.