In this newest series from #WeLovePV, we take a look at some of the names emblazoned upon Mexico’s street signs, currency, and public consciousness to answer the question that has lingered on the lips of Vallarta visitors since time immemorial: “Hey, Who’s That Guy?”*
Mexican Federal Highway 200 extends from northern neighbor Nayarit’s state capital of Tepic in the north clear down to the southern border of Mexico into Guatemala, running the full length of Puerto Vallarta along the way, and the section of this important coastal thoroughfare that runs through our sunny city by the sea is named for former Governor of Jalisco Francisco Medina Ascencio, reflecting his concentration of contributions to the region we call home today.
Born in 1910 during the unfolding Mexican Revolution, Medina Ascencio gained practical perspective on the significance of diplomacy during his formative years in Guadalajara. He pursued extensive legal study in conjunction with a degree in Economics, eventually moving on to Mexico City to practice law and pursue political aspirations. By 1953, he had become Jalisco’s State Treasurer, and later was appointed to the office of Municipal President in the capital city.
A successful political career led Medina Ascencio to the Governor position, and it is during this phase of his life that he made put his most enduring handprints on the state of Jalisco. He spearheaded a range of important initiatives in urban development throughout the late 1960s, including overseeing the construction of Guadalajara’s international airport as well as that of our own Puerto Vallarta…fittingly, the local roadway named in his honor today passes directly by the main terminal at PVR.
As Governor, the statesman played a central role in modernizing the state to meet the new demand that resulted from Puerto Vallarta’s explosion onto the international scene. One of his most illuminating initiatives was directing efforts to interconnect the national electric grid, stabilizing access to power in the newly-thriving municipality as well as throughout the state…in fact, it was Medina Ascensio himself who officially elevated this tiny fishing town to the status of “city” in 1968 to make it eligible for federal funding.
Francisco Medina Ascensio displayed such breadth of knowledge in his role as chief executive of Jalisco that his expertise was trusted on a global stage, as he was appointed Mexico’s ambassador to Italy in 1971. There he was appointed president of a prestigious Italian university, adding to an educational background that inspired his founding of CONALEP, a respected Mexican institution in our own city.
A tireless advocate for the potential of Jalisco’s western coast, Francisco Medina Ascensio made it his personal mission to transform Puerto Vallarta into the active and accessible travel destination it is today…and so next time you’re enjoying the view of the Pacific Ocean while rolling down the highway into town, perhaps pause to consider how one man can change the course of history.