President Iván Duque and Mayor of Medellín, Federico Gutiérrez, announced their commitment to transforming Colombia’s second largest city into a center of urban innovation, where soft culture with an Orange Economy, will prosper.
The politicians also vowed to dismantle criminal organizations, notably those belonging to ‘La Oficina’'(Envigado Office), and enact tough security measures through the program ‘El que la hace la paga’ (He who does, pays). “We are part of a generation of rulers who want to govern with everyone and for everyone,” said Duque, accompanied in the Casa de Nariño, by the charismatic 43-year old mayor.
Mayor Gutiérrez also revealed that he was “fed up” with La Oficina and, after several meetings with the U.S Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker, requested the U.S government speed up the extradition of members belonging to this drug trafficking and money laundering syndicate. “We are tired of them, the community does not want to know anything about these people, we must defeat once and for all the culture of illegality,” remarked Gutiérrez, adding that the damage by the mafia to Medellín “distorted all values.”
The Mayor also pointed out that in different operations, 13 members of La Oficina have been captured, seven remain at large, and 108 belonging to other criminal organizations have been arrested so far this year. According to El Colombiano newspaper, the popular mayor has also received numerous death threats for his crackdown on organized crime, the most recent, allegedly orchestrated by alias “Pichi” – captured this weekend by security forces at his luxurious estate on the Colombian coast.
President Duque took advantage of the first high-level meeting with Gutiérrez to highlight large-scale infrastructure projects that will give the inhabitants of Medellín even greater mobility: the Metrocable of Picacho and new tramway along the Carrera 80. The leaders also pledged to clean up bad air quality in a city known for its business and industrial prowess.
Closing a chapter on the bloody history of the Medellín cartel, Gutiérrez set a date for the demolition of Edificio Monaco, the white stone high-rise owned by Pablo Escobar. The 12 apartment luxury building will be razed to the ground in January 2019, giving way to a large public space that honors the victims of violence. “Symbols that glorify narco culture have no space in our city,” remarked the mayor.