One hundred days in office and Bogotá Mayor Claudia López has nine million residents of the Colombian capital confined to their homes, enacted by Decree 090 that began as a four-day “drill” (March 19 to March 23) and fused with the State of Emergency declaration by President Iván Duque.
After 26 days of quarantine, and extended to April 27, Mayor López has publicly claimed that she is willing to “extinguish” the economic engine of the city with #CuarentenaPorLaVida, which under any mandate is a death sentence for the survival of family-owned businesses, the informal workforce, day-to-day vendors across the city. All these, without contemplating the financial losses of medium-to-large sized companies with paralysis of production lines and furloughed staff.
With the city’s entire cultural industries shuttered-up “until further notice,” from art galleries to independent stages and movie theatres, many announcing foreclosure within weeks, the only stumbling block for Mayor López to extend #QuarantineForLife to June or July – as she has implied – is the Presidency itself, or more precise, President Iván Duque himself.
Beamed into households across the nation every night with the last beat of the National Anthem, the one-hour Q & A with Mr.President is always accompanied by a large bottle of hand sanitizer which like a sand clock marks the passing of announcements. Time, however, which for many Colombians translates into more financial uncertainty, rising debt and specter of insolvency.
While Duque reaches out tirelessly to Colombians explaining the full scope of the health emergency, Claudia López looms on the “epi-curve” horizon as Colombia’s next President whetting headlines with 100-day profiles, one media group even comparing her to Germany’s Angela Merkel for her domestic handling of the COVID-19 response.
On Tuesday, Mayor López found herself trending on Twitter after the district’s COP$6,000 million advertising contract was revealed, showing which big media is going to get their slice of the big media pie. Adjudicated by Bogotá’s media brokers and telecommunications company ETB, the contract rewards conglomerates that own newspapers, television stations, radio networks and online platforms shunning much-needed independent voices. The ETB document is being questioned by critics of the López administration as “self-promotion,” at the expense of much-needed investment in COVID-19 testers, PPE for healthcare workers or artificial respirators for critically ill patients.
While López faces high approval ratings – even on Twitter – President Duque has sanitized a polarized political arena by doing what he does best: being himself. No pretense, self-aggrandizing, just a “man next door” who turns up in your living room before the news. And just 100 days ago, as Mayor Claudia López “welcomed civic protest,” this affable, family man was being ridiculed by promoters – and supporters – of the national strike Paro Nacional. As thousands marched, coughed and sneezed between insults hurled at Duque, his wife and young children, swift action by this President has undoubtedly saved countless lives, and at an ominous juncture in humanity, in which legacies – political or other – are being built and destroyed by coronavirus.