Safford, Cananea become sister cities

Officials with Safford and Cananea sign a Sister City agreement, opening the door to trade and tourism opportunities between the two communities. Pictured are, from left, Safford City Councilman Arnold Lopez, Safford City Manager John Cassella, Cananea Mayor Eduardo Quiroga and Mexican Consul Jorge Arturo Arguelles Victorero, who hosted the event at the Mexican Consulate in Douglas. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

DOUGLAS — The relationship between Safford and Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, became official Thursday, with the signing of a Sister City agreement.

Officials from both cities traveled to Douglas, to conduct the signing ceremony at the Mexican Consulate.

City Councilman Arnold Lopez, who represented the Safford with City Manager John Cassella and Assistant to the City Manager Matt Hoshal, said he was hoping to see students from both countries travel to the two areas for educational opportunities.

“We’re going four-year college, and I had heard in the works over the last couple years we’ve been working on this, that was one of the possibilities that could take place. So I’m hoping for that, too,” Lopez said.

He added that athletics could also play a role in the cultural exchange, especially now that Eastern Arizona College has started men’s and women’s soccer programs.

The mayor of Cananea, El Presidente Eduardo Quiroga, said through a translator that he’s looking forward to spending more time in Safford to see what the two cities can do together.

“He said it’s a beautiful city. He said he’s been there and there is a beautiful people, beautiful mountains and those things,” Quiroga’s translator said, adding that Quiroga is curious to learn if there is an opportunity to establish trade around mineral deposits.

Mexican Consul Jorge Arturo Arguelles Victorero hosted the ceremony, which included musical performances by singers Karen Hernandez and Ekar Meza, dancers Compania Folklorico Itepo-Yazicue and a presentation by the Aqua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, Independence Queen contestants.

Mexican Consul Jorge Arturo Arguelles Victorero welcomes everyone to the Consulate in Douglas, for the Setp. 14, 2023, Sister City signing ceremony between Safford and Cananea, Sonora, Mexico.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

The ceremony also featured Cananea signing a Sister City agreement with Tombstone.

The Friday following the ceremony was spent in Cananea, with Lopez, Cassella and Hoshal touring the community and working on opportunities to establish joint trade and tourism efforts.

Safford and Cananea came together thanks to the efforts of the Southeast Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which seeks to increase business opportunities in communities on both sides of the border

Cananea has a population of about 31,000 and shares with Safford an economy based around copper mining. The city boasts the Buenavista mine, which started in 1899 and is the oldest continually operating open-pit copper mine in North America.