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As Bogota loses its mayor, time has come for voters to take control of their city.


Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro has been handed a political death sentence. Inspector General (IG) Alejandro Ordoñez is kicking the former guerrilla out of power and banning him from office for 15 years.

In theory, President Santos has ten days to rubber stamp the decision then install a caretaker mayor, and call elections a little over a month later.

However, courts in Cundinamarca have stepped in to suspend Ordoñez`s ruling and Petro has been given a stay of execution.

Will he stay or will he go?

Swords are being crossed by unelected officials in an arcane and unedifying legal bunfight. “Ordoñez is a right-wing ideologue” exclaim some. “No, he`s just upholding the constitution”, retort others. “The Cundimarca judges are friends of Petro”, “Ordoñez is his sworn enemy”.

You get the picture.

Meanwhile the nation`s opinion formers appear on radio, tv, and in the papers collectively to sigh that it is all very typical of Colombia`s disfunctional institutions.

And who can blame the Colombians who moan that instead of having a mayor who invests in transport and builds schools, they are subject to political posturing, hyperbolic rhetoric, and legal wrangling?

Where does the city go now?

A mayor (if that is what he still is) focused on self-preservation is the last thing Bogota needs.

Bogota`s 8 million inhabitants are Colombia`s economic powerhouse generating a third of GDP, and if Bogota fails, Colombia fails.

Thankfully she is resilient and able to crack on despite inadequate and myopic administrations. But surely time has come to put an end to the “muddle through” “make the best of it” attitude. Enough already of the corruption that poisoned the Moreno years, and the incompetence and division of the Petro administration.

Time has come for Bogotanos to get out and vote for someone who will de-politicize the mayoralty, roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.

Last week I yearned for a Bloomberg figure to appear and save us. Bloomberg was obsessed by potholes; have you seen Bogota`s roads?

What bliss it would be to drive along the Septima and not have to swerve or jump on the breaks as a War of the Worlds chasm opens up in front of the windscreen (windshield).

Look, we could devote acres of space to debating whether Petro should be removed from office – I personally think in this case the decision is anti-democratic and therefore wrong – but there is a real risk the sclerosis catches and Bogota loses another year.

Let`s try to move things along. It`s time for Bogotanos to start reclaiming their city.

New elections and a fresh face with a manifesto for delivery – for a new metro, for transport investment, for no more potholes, for a law and order strategy that puts citizens’ safety first (not the collection of multas). En fin, let`s get someone in who can “do a job”.

One can but dream…

Picture, El Tiempo

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