Maria Mercedes Maldonado

Maria Mercedes Maldonado (Photo: Cablenoticias)

Bogota Housing Secretary Mayor Maria Mercedes Maldonado is a former lawyer and briefly replaced Mayor Gustavo Petro in early 2014 when the burgomaster was suspended for a few weeks.

Maldonado on April 21, 2014 replaced Colombian Labor Minister Rafael Pardo, who served as interim mayor for the past month after President Juan Manuel Santos upheld a December 2013 decision by the Inspector General’s Office to remove Petro for alleged mismanagement of a trash collection reform in 2012.

Santos appoints Maria Mercedes Maldonado as Bogota mayor

Petro was reinstated the day after Maldonado was sworn into office.

From Uni to Paris

Maldonado has a strong intellectual career, gaining a degree in urban planning from the National University of Colombia before moving to Paris in order to gain her PhD in urbanization.

On her return from France, Maldonado used her experience to serve as a legal adviser for land management disputes in areas such as Medellin’s metropolitan area and has dealt extensively with victims of displacement. Furthermore, Maldonado worked with the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cudinamarca (CAR) as a legal aid for disputes over roads, housing, water and waste disposal.

Maldonado’s work within the Petro administration will give insight into her the role and was described by Colombia’s Vice President Angelino Garzon as “a woman who knows the district’s issues…we must give our full attention to our collaboration in order to insure the success of her term as Mayor of Bogota.”

History with Petro

After years working as a legal aid and learning about the urbanization of Bogota, Maldonado returned to Colombia where she was appointed as Secretary of Planning as part of ex-Bogota Mayor, Gustavo Petro’s administration.

It was during her time in this role that Maldonado became responsible for the organisation and implementation of “Bogota Humana” – a development program whose key ideals were bringing an end to social segregation, combating climate change and defending the people of Bogota. A policy she plans to continue during her time as Mayor.

After her success within the “Bogota Humana” program, Maldonado was made Habitat Secretary working with a key focus on urbanization and social cohesion in urban development.

Whilst in that role, Maldonado spearheaded a campaign to focus on unfinished or abandoned builds and reconstitute them as land for housing. This was achieved by giving the current owner a deadline in which to finish construction or the house would be put up for auction. Measures such as these helped to decrease the extreme overcrowding and problems of homelessness in Bogota.

Additionally, this isn’t the first time that Maldonado has been put into the role of Mayor of Bogota. In 2012, when Petro was forced to leave Bogota to attend a funeral, he publicly left Maldonado in charge as acting mayor for the time he would be away. Although, in the end, this was only for a few days between July 28 and July 31, it reflects the mutual respect that exists between the pair.

Academic Work

Academically Maldonado has worked as a professor at the Institute of Urban Studies at the National University of Colombia as well as being a researcher and collaborator on many projects dealing with urban issues across Colombia.

Maldonado has also worked as a researcher at the University of the Andes for the Interdisciplinary Center for Development Studies (CIDER) and the Center for Economic Development Studies (CEDE). In her work as both an adviser and consultant, Maldonado has worked on various processes of law reform and policy land use, urban reform and land management in Colombia, at national, regional and municipal levels, with emphasis on the link between land policies and social housing.

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