What was meant to be Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa‘s first and impressive show of force against crime in Colombia’s capital has become such an embarrassment that it could potentially cost him his job.
Peñalosa called in the help of a US public relations company and pretty much all Colombian press when he decided to sweep “The Bronx,” one of Bogota’s most dangerous areas, clean.
Soon after he announced that he would demolish the properties in the area for the construction of a shopping center.
The troubles for Peñalosa started right after the operation as the homeless were forcefully moved onto other parts of the city to the dislike the the residents of those areas.
Then, officials from numerous nearby towns and cities said that former Bronx inhabitants had begun appearing in their jurisdictions, apparently having taken there by or in collusion with the Bogota authorities.
Two lawsuits now stand against Peñalosa, one of which could result in the mayor’s impeachment.
The one that should worry Peñalosa the most is the lawsuit filed by the leftist House Representative Alirio Uribe.
The lawmaker and prominent human rights advocate filed charges before the Prosecutor General and the Inspector General’s Office over alleged abuse of authority, forced displacement, and cruel and degrading treatment of people.
If the Inspector General agrees with Uribe, Peñalosa can be suspended and barred from holding public office just like Bogota’s previous two elected mayors.
The second lawsuit was filed by a group action by local merchants who claim to have lost their legal businesses, property and homes by the evacuation of The Bronx.
The merchants and home owners claim that their lost assets were legitimate and that the government’s forced control of and demolition of the area had failed to follow due diligence.
The Bronx, located at only a few blocks from the Presidential Palace, has been a pain in the backside for Bogota’s authorities for decades.
Numerous mayors failed to take control of the area where drug dealers, pimps and kidnappers reigned without too much interference, partly because of corruption within the Bogota police force.
- De las basuras de Petro al Bronx de Peñalosa (Semana)
- Vienen demandas contra el Distrito por desalojo irregular del ‘Bronx’ (Pulzo)
- Los otros desplazados del Bronx (El Espectador)