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A look at 150 days of the administration of the Mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López

Although 150 days is a short period to assess a 4-year administration, the first actions show how the current administration will be toward the future.

This analysis gathers, on one part, the promises of the candidate in her political campaign (2019) and on the other, the actions as the Mayor as of January 1 of this year, reflected in several administrative actions related to these key issues.

It should be noted that during this period, two key facts for the analysis occurred 1: 1) Formulation of the District Development Plan, showing the idea of society and the city of the Mayor, inspired for the social, economic, and political ideas system that direct her actions as a professional and political figure in action, and 2) the appearance in December of 2019, of an epidemic that was later officially declared a pandemic by the OMS 2.

Listen: The reality of the homeless during the crisis (in Spanish).

The confluence of these two dynamics impacts adopting not only temporary decisions but also in the face of the development model of territorial entities in the country for which Bogotá, as the capital, is the reference point for many other municipalities.          

The contrasts between “speeches” and “practices” of the first 150 days have allowed identifying several actions of the administration concerning the issues identified as with greater visibility or controversy in the current analysis.

While in some cases the correspondence is evident, in others, there is a new speech that replaces the preceding and justifies administrative actions, with phrases such as “build over what was built”, “it was inevitable to do it otherwise”, or “it was a decision adopted that could not be modified”.

The Mayor is part of a world debate on the need to review the conditions of the social contract. In this debate, they started by including the “market” as an actor equivalent to society and State in the proposal for a new social and environmental contract for Bogotá, that begins to contrast in the face of the COVID-19, with arguments taken from diverse claims from theories used in the debate and from the community.

The situation around the pandemic seems to have stirred up a reflection in that sense, as in the version approved by the City Council, disappeared from the market nominally. On the other hand, there is a clear focus to the environmental contract in regards, to the protection of the Main Ecological Structure and the goal of “Re-greening Bogotá”, meaning that any green action could be translated as a result.

Read more: What is the property tax and how may it be used to offset the pandemic (in Spanish)?

In regards to the pandemic, the speech and the practices adopted during the first weeks do not correspond to the political decisions that needed to be taken at the moment. It is also evident that as of the third week of March the administration, at last, took control of the situation with a different approach to the one initially raised, making contention more effective as of the date of this analysis.

The ideological distancing seen between the Bogotá and the Central Government administration is evident in the political views as in the treatment of the pandemic, although nobody was prepared for such an event, there are substantial differences in the set of ideas that prevail from each side, at least in this particular issue.

The social reality of the pandemic has demonstrated that restrictions have not been complied with, especially in the informal sector of the economy, which continue on the streets without taking the necessary protection measures, or on the contrary, they cannot take care of the basic needs, taking into account that many did not receive the help from the government and others were temporary. On several occasions, they had to call on the police forces to keep the order.

The police abuse does not correspond to the speech of the administration and continues to be constant in institutional solutions toward the community. Offering apologies does not solve anything: it is evident that the protocol to face social protection does not work: police enforcement acts against the notions of the “Bogotá cares” or “Bogotá without fear” policies.

The disciplinary actions taken do not show any results as everything continues the same as if nothing had occurred. The evident lack of forming in human rights and selection processes for police forces is reflected in the excessive force they have against the community, without consideration of children, women, the elderly, indigenous, or LGBTIQ+ communities, just to mention a few.

Mobility is an important axis for the development of this administration and a priority in its processes; they are banking on new and diverse transportation modes to connect urban and regional territories and also shorten the distances between peripheral areas and the city, including solutions known as the Regiotram and cable cars. It is still not clear if TransMilenio is still going to be the central actor of mobility and if the Metro System is still among the feeding dynamics for the BRT system (Bus Rapid Transit System). The prior without producing other exchange, connection, or displacement routes. The metro proposal covers the same routes, being in greater percentage the same as TransMilenio.

Concerning security, the measures taken by the Office of the Mayor of Bogotá have been insufficient to secure a reduction of high-impact crimes and misdemeanors, and there are several questions with respect of the National Police role and which are the measures that contribute to improving the security in Bogotá and the approaches that need to be taken.

Also concerning is the participation strategy adopted by the city administration, which will impact the dynamics of people that do not have accessibility to digital media and connectivity, producing a zoning regulation where possibly not all interest of the community will be addressed and where the lack of studies and mechanisms to determine the needs of the community are evident.

The environmental issues of Bogotá are related to four strategic issues that have produced much debate: The Thomas van der Hammen Reserve, the climatic crisis, the air quality, and the wetlands approach.

The action of the Mayor still falls short for “decidedly” protecting the ecosystems, delegating the decisions to acts of the former administration that had already been signed or to technical concepts of National government entities, neglecting the role and responsibility of the current administration of Bogotá. Also, many actions promised through community pacts were carried out by imposing policies or simply making technical visits, as the case of the wetlands, where there have not been any actions taken to stop infrastructure construction over the protected lands.

Lastly, in regards to the Urban Development Plan (POT, for its Spanish acronym), it is important to highlight that in a POT model not only the biophysical aspect must be included but also the relationships established, understanding the particularities to formulate territorial development instruments that consider the new reality toward a de-densification process in a compact functional territory and the dynamic of the region with the city.


*TransMilenio is the Bogotá mass transportation bus system  

1 The purpose of this analysis was to identify the correspondence between speeches (proposals, promises, announcement, reflections, claims, communiqués, interviews, and forum & panel participations and press conferences) expressed by the candidate and elected official and her actions through several administrative actions (decrees, resolutions, circulars, contracts, alterations to existing contracts, official summons, and bids opened among others).

2 ---11-march-2020



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