The best of the year| Two Colombian mayors of world name: Fajardo and Peñaloza

· Politic, Violence

Enrique Peñaloza

Luz Helena and Enrique Peñaloza. Foto de Jaime Ramírez.

The names of Sergio Fajardo and Enrique Peñaloza are well known in the international arena. Both of them are related to the two cities where they proved their skill as mayors and let a print not only in both cities, but also around the world as models of administration. They broke also the history of the two Colombian cities associated to violence in former decades and started a new process in the hope of development and better standard of life for their country.

The International Herald Tribune dedicated an article to Enrique Peñaloza, “Former Mayor of Bogotá Leaves his Mark on Many Cities”, a note of Carolyn Whelan published on last December 28. Whelan said about Peñaloza:

“Peñalosa’s urban planning efforts as mayor of the Colombian capital from 1998 to 2000 helped transform the city of 6.7 million from a snarled, toxic and crime-ridden mess into an inclusive and clean metropolis marrying the best of buses, parks, bikeways and libraries. The cornerstone of his program was the TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit system, which was created at a fraction of the cost of sleek transportation projects like subways.”

But the importance of Peñaloza´s urban plan is not only as he could make of Bogotá a better city. His importance is of big importance for a world vision of what a 21rst city should be in the ways os sustainable cities in the wake of global warming and the increase of urban population.

“Income equality is impossible, so what other equality is?” he asked during a stopover in New York last month after a World Bank meeting in Paris. “Access to green areas, a waterfront, to sports and music facilities. What we do with our cities will determine quality of life for hundreds of years.”

At the other side of the Colombian Andes, in the Central Range of the most mountainous region of South America, other man is saying goodbye to his period as mayor of what was a dangerous cities few years ago: Sergio Fajardo of Medellín. Same as Peñaloza, Fajardo changed the traditional way of making administration in the city and his results were of a big transformation that let him at 80% of popularity in the city and a wide national and international admiration. His proposal became also as a model of facing urban violence and opening spaces for peace and development in his ideal of inclusion. During few hours Fajardo will become former mayor of Medellín since his period ends December 31rst, but his name is already on the table for a possible presidential candidacy.

Even if these two men have also a gross number of critics, it is also true that they have influenced the life of their cities, but have settled an interesting model, a model for his nation, his continent and the world.

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