Though the mayor’s CV and several official documents list that he obtained a Master’s from the International Institute of Public Administration in Paris, a report published by newspaper El Espectador on Sunday showed that he never actually completed the degree.
The mayor’s resume states he studied four semesters at the Parisian institute to obtain his Master’s, yet the investigators found that he actually only spent 11 months there, which the institute confirmed did not constitute a Master’s.
Just last month, investigative journalists also debunked Peñalosa’s supposed PhD from Pantheon-Assas University in Paris, which he had referenced in several of his books and in official documentation.
Further investigations into the faux degrees has been called for, as lying on official documentation is illegal and could cost the mayor his position.
Bogota residents, already becoming increasingly discontent with the mayor, have been calling for his resignation on Twitter with the hashtag #PeñalosaRenuncia.
Peñalosa responded to the accusations by saying that it’s hard to determine what the equivalent of a degree from France from the 70s would be in today’s world. The mayor defended himself by saying he had consulted experts, who clarified that today’s education systems in both Colombia and France are not the same as they were back then, reported newspaper El Espectador.
The mayor also explained that there is now a system of verification of degrees and programs that did not exist before, as he has discovered in the wake of the accusations.
In regards to his completely fictitious PhD, Peñalosa blamed it on an error by an official, and stated that he had never claimed to have earned it, though two of his authored books mention his supposed doctoral thesis as well as several official webpages.
The scandal merely fans the flames of discontent with the mayor that have been brewing in Bogota for quite awhile.
Running as an independent, the 61-year-old politician won the election with 33% of the vote by promising to fix Bogota’s horrific traffic problems and curb the growing crime rate.
This is Peñalosa’s second term as mayor, as he also held the position from 1998 to 2001. His philosophy of using urban planning as the driving force for social change earned him global acclaim.
However, the international infatuation with Peñalosa is not shared by the majority of his constituents.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, Peñalosa’s approval rating has dropped to 35%, making him one of the most unpopular mayors in Colombia.
The poll also showed that 64% of those interviewed believe things have been worsening ever since Peñalosa took office in December.