Washington, DC 202.408.9450 © 2012 Women's Democracy Network. All rights reserved.
Maria Elena Cruz Urrutia, Guatemala
“IRI supported me. IRI helped me become a leader within my own party and within the community.”
Ms. Maria Elena Cruz was appointed Chief Counsel to the City Council of Guatemala in 2004 after 4 years of elected office in that same body. Ms. Cruz was the only woman elected to the Guatemala City Council in 2001 and served on its Committees of Finance, Transportation, and Historical Protection.
As Chief Counsel she serves as liaison between the mayor, council members, other city governments and the federal government. She is solely responsible for ensuring city compliance with federal laws, and for ensuring municipal agency compliance with newly enacted council measures. Her duties also include counseling and advising elected members on legislation, budget items, and day-to-day affairs. Ms. Cruz is an integral part of the council and serves as a key player in local politics as she works for and represents the busiest, most dynamic and popular council in all of Guatemala. Many of Guatemala’s presidents have used the council as a launching pad for Guatemala’s presidency, and many presidents return as mayors once their term expires.
Ms. Cruz is not only a leader within the council; she is also a leader within the community and her party, the Partido Unionista (PU). Ms. Cruz began attending IRI seminars and training sessions as early as 2000 before announcing her candidacy for city council. She credits IRI with encouraging her to run for office and with training her team for what became her first successful popular election to city council. For six years, Ms. Cruz has been leading party leaders and youth in IRI-led seminars, roundtables, and related activities. She was also key in forging a formal agreement between IRI and PU in 2005, which allows IRI access to PU membership and allows special training requests from PU on specific training/seminar topics for its leadership, candidates, and members.
Ms. Cruz is also founder and president of the Association for Professional Accountants, and founder and president of the Association for Women in Municipal Government.
She is 49 years-old and holds degrees in political economy and mercantile law from Colegio Belga of Guatemala.