Bogotá Mayor Claudia López is staring into the abyss of public opinion after the most recent poll by INVAMER shows a disapproval rating of 65%, and 29% by contrast approving of her record. During the early months of her administration in April 2020, Mayor López’s approval rating was a historic 89% for a recently elected official.
The plunge, and some of the reasons why López has fallen out of favor with Bogotanos, are all too well documented. When 90% of the city’s eight million residents don’t feel safe on the street (according to Bogotá Como Vamos), and every day, commuters are exposed to armed robbery within the public transportation system, SITP and TransMilenio, López’s security woes are the tip of a public relations calamity.
Added to a long list of public grievances, from deteriorated infrastructure (road, sidewalks, bridges) is a political discourse that, since the start of her administration has targeted the national government, especially for human rights abuses committed by the National Police during the riots of the National Strike (Paro Nacional), that besieged and resulted in widespread vandalism. Mayor López more recently sealed a “non-aggression pact” with the left-wing presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, showing a partisan bias towards the former Bogotá Mayor, Senator and presidential front runner.
In January, the Office of the Public Prosecutor opened a disciplinary investigation against Claudia López for “allegedly ignoring constitutional and legal norms, by tweeting messages with partisan political content.” Her January 16 Tweet mocked former President Álvaro Uribe, and party candidate for the right-wing Centro Democrático Oscar Iván Zuluaga stating that “a strategy of deception has always been the party’s seal.”
Beyond the heavy-handed narratives on social media, López’s disdain for public debate has also come under scrutiny from journalists who claim she shrugs them off and refuses to answer questions. During an interview regarding the all-day restriction for vehicles, known as Pico y Placa, when asked on television how residents feel paying high mobility taxes and insurance for a car that can’t be driven, she remarked: “I invite you to sell it.”
Her off-the-cuff comment was met with rebuke and ridicule in memes, such as “If school books are too expensive, sell your kids,” or “Mayor, I was stabbed on TransMilenio, too bad…learn to sew.” López later excused herself.
From passing by decree a territorial ordinance plan (POT) that faced stiff opposition from city councilors and by members of her own party (Green Alliance), Mayor López appears to be out-of-touch with scores of neighborhood associations that claim POT essentially destroys residential communities by promoting the commercial uses of soil, resulting in more traffic congestion, insecurity, noise and pollution levels, and eventual devaluation of properties.
If Bogotanos fear their real estate will become worthless with planned expansion of commercial zones, for the residents of La Merced the situation is desperate after indigenous groups remain camped inside the National Park, living in makeshift tents and cooking their food over firewood. Unsanitary conditions, along with violent episodes in which the indigenous guard have attacked district officials, has turned Bogotá’s National Park into an improvised slum, eye-sore, and security problem, with no resolution in sight.
According to INVAMER, not only is Claudia López deep in disapproval territory, but pessimism has reached 85% of residents believing “things in the city are getting worse.” Former Mayoral candidate and now a Senatorial candidate Miguel Uribe Turbay is one of López’s most outspoken critics, and voice that echoes the frustration of many. “We are fed up with your incompetence and the insecurity of the city,” stated Uribe Turbay on Twitter. “We need you (Claudia López) to work as Mayor and head of the police. Security can only improve with management, investment and teamwork between police and citizens.”