Santos, the cousin of President Juan Manuel Santos told Bogota’s Blu Radio and Semana magazine that he believes he can become the spokesman for the people who oppose current Mayor Gustavo Petro, who Santos told Semana was the “worst mayor Bogota has had.”
The hopeful mayor soon supported Oscar Ivan Zuluaga’s presidential candidacy and campaigned against his cousin in the capital where both live. Now that the elections are over, his focus has shifted to the mayoral election.
The voters to come
To prepare for the 2015 elections, Santos told Blu Radio that he is collecting data in the capital to determine where in Bogota are voters who are leaning towards the Democratic Center.
“I’ll pick up that we took a million votes [between 2002 and 2010] in the presidential elections in Bogota,” Santos said in the interview with the radio station.
In this year’s first round of presidential elections, President Santos came third in Colombia’s capital of Bogota but then won Bogota in the second round of votes and was subsequently re-elected.
“What if I have that is absolutely clear is that I will assume a spokesman for the million to help Mr. Gustavo Petro will provide a very strong opposition,” Santos told Blu Radio.
Santos’ past hurdles
Santos is under investigation for having alleged connections with paramilitary leaders.
In 2009, these alleged ties almost forced Santos to resign. But the current president at the time, Uribe, refused his resignation.
Santos told newspaper El Tiempo, where he worked as Editor in Chief, that “not only did Uribe not accept my resignation but he spoke of going to war with those interested in damaging the government and myself.”
In August of 2013, Santos was implicated in a land theft scandal that forced the resignation of the country’s ambassador to the US. Santos was connected to illegal land grabbing in the eastern Vichada department when his name was listed in reports that included Riopaila, a firm under criminal investigation for their alleged illegal appropriation of lands.
At the time, Santos denied the accusations and told local media that “all of the lands were acquired legally” and “were purchased with the UAF (United Agricultural Family) and fulfill all requirements of the law.”
The case came on the heels of the forced resignation of former Colombian ambassador to the United States, Carlos Urrutia, whose previous law firm, Brigard & Urritia, helped multinationals illegally acquire stolen land in the Vichada area.
The current state of Bogota
Gustavo Petro is the current mayor of Bogota and took office in 2011 for the Progresistas movement.
Since his induction, there has been a crime reduction, along with a reduction in transport fares. Homicides have reduced 26% which is the lowest in 30 years. A goal is in place this year to bring homicides down even more. There are currently 16 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants and Petro’s goal is to bring that down to a single digit number.
Nevertheless, the mayor has long suffered the lowest approval ratings in the country over ongoing issues with traffic congestion, and his head-on approach with the city council that mostly consists of traditional politicians.
The political friction and Petro’s abysmal approval rating led to opponents starting an impeachment procedure in 2012, one year after the Mayor’s inauguration. This referendum was put on hold after a controversial intervention by Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez who single-handedly impeached the mayor in December.
President Santos subsequently signed off in spite of an inter-American human rights commission order to refrain from impeaching the elected official. A lower court later declared that move illegal after which Petro was reinstated.
The leftist mayor, along with his party, supported Santos’ during his re-election campaign in lieu of support for the peace talks between the FARC, the largest guerrilla group in Colombia and the government.
- Pacho Santos announced candidacy for mayor of Bogotá (El Espectador)
- The successes of Mayor Gustavo Petro (Caracol Radio)
- “It’s very likely candidate for mayor of Bogotá” Pacho Santos (Blu Radio)