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The recall of the mayor of Medellín ignites the presidential race in Colombia

Daniel Quintero, mayor of Medellín.

It has been months since the mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, went from being considered “refreshing” for the politics of the second largest city important in Colombia or from “independent of the traditional powers” ​​to having a disapproval that is close to 40% – according to the last Invamer poll of October – and to be on the verge of a revocation that has become a national political discussion, in middle of the campaign for the presidential and congressional elections in 2022.

The National Registry validated 133,248 signatures to advance a process recall, which would be unprecedented in the city. In the midst of the polarization that has characterized society in recent years, the debate has been extrapolated to that of Uribism versus Petrism, due to former President Álvaro Uribe endorsing the recall while the leading candidate in the polls, Gustavo Petro, has defended the Medellín's president.

“The corrupt want to revoke the mayor of Medellín. I propose to the citizens of Medellín not to support the corrupt, “Petro wrote on his Twitter account. The left-wing candidate has recently received the support of former Antioquia governor Luis Pérez, a questioned political figure linked to Quintero. The closeness between the president of Medellín and the Petro campaign was also revealed by the controversial inclusion of his files in the lists of the Congress of the Historical Pact headed by the former mayor of Bogotá.

Uribe, for his part, tweeted that “the mayor of Medellín has been a liar and a bad administrator.” “It has been a disaster in the management of the entities, 90% of the hiring is direct and Medellín has more than 40% poverty,” said the former president, whose candidate Alfredo Ramos lost to Quintero in 2019.

Also on Twitter, where Quintero usually makes official announcements that surprise the people of Medellin, the mayor has said that there is a “beautiful campaign of citizen endorsement “And that” there are false signatures “although the evidence has not yet been submitted to the Prosecutor's Office. For him, the situation he faces is reduced to “hatred and corruption of Uribismo.”

However, the discontent Regarding his management in the city, he goes beyond uribism, which does promote the revocation. In the last two years, criticism has been evident even among several of his voters, who reproach him for having surrounded himself with traditional politicians, betraying his promise of independence and a style that some sectors call populist.

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The The management that Quintero has given the Public Companies of Medellín and the case of Hidroituango, an energy megaproject that would generate 17% of Colombia's energy when starting operations, has generated a real political crisis in the city. “EPM went from being a buoyant company and national pride to having 4 managers in 2 years and scandals every day. We have lost the investment grade and the market no longer trusts the company, “wrote Councilor Daniel Duque, of the Green Alliance and who has been punished by his party for opposing Quintero.

At the center of the discussion is the relationship of the people of Medellin with the business community. Quintero campaigned criticizing the businessmen and has said that the EPM board had interests that did not favor the citizens. For some analysts, with statements and tweets, the mayor has tried to erode that scheme of alliance between the public and private sectors that settled in Medellín after the bloody period of terrorism that the city experienced in response to that history of violence.

That has perhaps been the mayor's best-known controversy, due to the national scope. But in the city other criticisms have been unveiled for the management of Buen Comienzo, the program that serves minors from zero to five years of age from vulnerable sectors and in which the Comptroller's Office investigates cost overruns; or the neglect of the city's green areas, after the contracts were handed over to traditional political parties, among other complaints about corruption in urban institutions.

There are still many steps to be taken in the revocation process, which until now has never been successful with the mayors of large Colombian cities. It is not yet clear if it reaches the polls, but this, which would be a local decision, is already looming as another great polarization issue, one more, in the 2022 presidential contest.

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