Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | April 7, 2011

Bogotá, a world-class capital?

The day after 9-11, the New York Times published an article about Bogotá’s place as one of the safest and most sophisticated capitals of the world. I sat reading the paper, while swallowed in dust and fire sirens, just a neighborhood away from Ground Zero, and thought the world had turned upside down. The rise of Bogotá, a city of 7.4 million people, came as a result of the work of Enrique Peñalosa, Bogotá’s major from 1998 to 2001.

But, today, Bogotá’s chaos and corruption seem to be back, and Bogotanos blame the current mayor, Samuel Moreno, a populist from the left-wing Democratic Pole Party. He and his brother, a former senator, have been linked to corruption scandals, of which Moreno says, “lies, lies, lies.”

Mayoral elections will be held again in October, and Peñalosa is leading the polls. Though Peñalosa is more a technocrat, and less of a politician, Bogotanos want him back: only 20% of those asked in a poll in September said they felt safe in Bogotá and 27% said they had been victims of crime in the previous year. Construction at more than 200 separate points across the city results in sit-here-all-day traffic.

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