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Home / Locations / Americas / Colombia / Medellín mayor looks to continue journey from violence to investment

Federico Gutierrez

The Colombian city of Medellín was once considered the murder capital of the world, but is now held up as a shining example of infrastructure investment and good governance. Mayor Federico Gutierrez tells Natasha Turak about the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain.

Q: What are some of the key themes in Medellín's strategy to attract FDI?

A: We have an important programme of innovation, as well as a challenge to innovate through science and technology. In 2018 we will invest 2% of GDP in science and technology-related activities. An entity called Ruta N is an example of this strategy: we have [reserved] 172 hectares as a district for innovation where we want to [attract] a lot of companies and enterprises from around the world. This is part of the strategy to attract investment, and therefore we are inviting companies to Medellín to develop these possibilities.

Q: Has the peace process in Colombia had an impact on the economy of Medellín?

A: We haven’t seen this yet reflected in the economy. The country has to generate trust in the present and the future. [Leftist rebel group] Farc has to generate more trust and hand over everything so the country can keep on believing this process can move forward. 

All Colombians want peace. An important step has been taken, which is the handing over of the weapons the Farc guerrillas had in their power. What we need is not just for them to hand over the weapons, but also to hand over the last penny or asset that they’ve taken through narco-trafficking and extortion. As mayor of Medellín, we are committed [to the process]. [For those who have] handed back weapons and arrived in our city, there is a normalisation process and social programmes to prevent [them from ever taking] one up again. We want them to abandon this life forever, and through education and opportunities find a good path.

Q: Medellín is often cited as a business case for infrastructure improvements and good governance. What has been central to improving these two factors?

A: Several things. Medellín overcame the worst times of violence and went from being the most violent city in the world in 1991 – with 381 murders for each 100,000 inhabitants – to having its lowest murder rate today in 40 years.

This has been achieved thanks to the commitment of the citizens. The whole city has evolved and developed in different sectors thanks to teamwork, the private and public sectors and universities working together. The city is on a good path.

We still have a lot of challenges. We have to fight against the criminal structures, and this is one of my priorities. I stress that security is neither right-wing nor left-wing, and we need to address the current challenges with strong measures against crime, but also through investing socially in education and opportunities. A clear approach is the integrated transport system. Transport issues generate a lot of social gaps if you don’t get them right. The people who spend the most time moving around the city are the poorest. A good transport system is key to achieving innovation, using clean fuel – a full commitment to the environment and air quality are key issues for our city. Medellín is looking proudly toward the future, and is going to move forward day by day.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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