Bogota's first female mayor: Claudia Lopez
AMERİCA

Bogota's first female mayor: Claudia Lopez

Lopez faces challenges including construction of first metro line, Venezuelan migration, improving air quality, police force

News Service AA

Jan. 1 was a historic day for the Colombian capital as the first time in 481 years since its founding, Bogota has a woman as mayor.

On Oct. 27, 2019, Claudia Nayibe Lopez Hernandez won the elections with 1,108,541 votes. The progressive Green Alliance Party candidate defeated Carlos Fernando Galan, son of former presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan who was killed in 1989 on orders of former drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Lopez was born March 9, 1970 in Bogota. She is the daughter of a school teacher and a businessman. She grew up in a middle-class family surrounded by five brothers. She attended primary and secondary education in public schools.

The mayor studied finance, government and international relations at Externado University of Colombia.

She also has a degree in urban land management at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, a master's in public administration and urban policy at New York’s Columbia University and a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University in the U.S.

She was a senator for the Green Alliance Party in 2014 and a vice presidential candidate in 2018.

Lopez has a same sex marriage with Angelica Lozano in December.

Her first steps in politics are linked to the participation in the student movement that promoted the so-called “Seventh ballot” which promoted the convening of a Constituent Assembly in 1991 and ended with the promulgation of a new Constitution in Colombia.

At the end of the 1990’s she was part of the team of the two-time Mayor Enrique Penalosa.

- A brief step through journalism

Through strong journalistic investigation, Lopez uncovered a scandal involving political influence of paramilitary groups, known as “Parapolitics,” in 2005. Her work, published by Semana magazine, resulted in the conviction of 40 politicians related to the groups.

In 2010 she published "Y refundaron la patria,", or “And they refounded the homeland” cin which she explains links between Colombian illegal armed groups, drug trafficking, and the political class. She also wrote several opinion columns for independent media La Silla Vacia.

-Senator and vice-presidential candidate

Despite the threats she faced on account of complaints against legislators linked with "Parapolitics," Lopez decided to begin her political career as a congresswoman. In the 2014 elections, she was elected senator with 81,000 votes, the highest vote of the Green Alliance Party.

From this platform, she raised her voice against the old ways of doing politics in Colombia -- a constant of her career that earned her the moniker as a "rude and loud" senator.

In 2018, she was the vice president formula of Sergio Fajardo’s presidential candidacy with the Colombia Coalition. In the electoral race, they lost the first leg against the presidential duo of Ivan Duque and Marta Lucia Ramirez, who were candidates of the Democratic Center Party).

- Anti-Corruption Consultation

Lopez, along with Senator Angelica Lozano, led the call for the Anti-Corruption Consultation in which Colombians voted. It was a ballot intended to implement measures to end corruption.

It received more than 99% support but the referendum was declared invalid.

The consultation consisted of seven questions which dealt with issues such as the reduction of salary for high-ranking state officials, mandatory accountability for politicians and the limit of three terms for senators or House of Representatives members.

- Government program

During her administration, Lopez will have important challenges, including construction of the first metro line, the Venezuelan migration crisis, improve the city’s air quality and increase the police force, among other issues.

On the subway, one of the main concerns of Bogota citizens, Lopez said she will not revoke the contract left by outgoing office holder Penalosa. She stressed she would not allow 2.5 million people living in Bogota districts of Suba and Engativa left outside the first subway line.

Regarding Venezuelans in the city, Lopez told Anadolu Agency she will attend to them with solidarity and “zero tolerance for xenophobia.”

To face the environmental crisis the city is experiencing, the new mayor promised she would carry out two large environmental projects where 1 million trees will be planted in the next 20 years. It will allow for the emitting of oxygen and capture polluting particles in the city.

The reforestation will be done in the hills, the Thomas van der Hammen Natural Reserve, the Bogota river, the rural area of Usme and Ciudad Bolivar and the Tunjuelo river.

On education, Lopez said in her inauguration speech that: “We don't want more young people indebted to Colombian Institute of Educational Credit and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX), we don't want more young people who neither study or work. We will guarantee free higher education with connection to employment”.

And she spoke about increase school coverage.

“From elementary school to eighth grade, the central problem is not coverage, the problem is quality. There we will work with teachers giving them more opportunities for training, research and pedagogical application in the classroom; We are going to offer them training in masters, we will continue to reduce the number of children per group and improve the educational infrastructure. A huge investment of almost 500,000 million pesos ($152 million) will be made to reach 20,000 free professional higher education quotas with a direct connection to employment or entrepreneurship” she explained.

To improve security Lopez suggested she will double the number of police officers from 1,600 to 3,000 troops.

"We need more and better police," said the mayor. “That is why I have clearly said that in the first and second years of my government we will not be able to increase the number of uniformed men because there are not enough graduates at Santander General School (the training school for future National Police officers). But in the third and fourth year, with an additional investment of 60,000 million pesos ($18 million), we can reach 3,000 police officers.”

Finally, on traffic congestion, Lopez concluded "while in Bogota and in the world we continue to depend on fossil energies, there is no way to have a quality of life, air quality and sustainability."

She promised “every public service bus that we can buy new will be electric. We are going to give concrete tax incentives for people who buy electric vehicles or transform their diesel or gasoline car into clean energy.”

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