Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro has come up with good policies for Colombia’s capital, but needs to “stop improvising” to up his poor approval ratings, former mayor and presidential candidate Antanas Mockus said.
According to Mockus, his successor has squandered a series of good ideas by relying too much on improvisation.
“On the gun ban, I sympathize a lot…I cannot agree more [with Petro’s policy]…I agree a lot…It should be permanent,” Mockus told Colombia Reports. “The ban is showing a good trend in a reduction of homicides.”
For Mockus, the appeal of the gun ban was important as it sought to change the very culture of Bogota. Guns are “very deeply rooted in [our] macho culture…we have to work continually.”
Petro’s initiative to create drug consumption centers and the providing of prescription drugs to addicts can also count on the approval of Bogota’s former mayor.
”This approach is [well] grounded on the basis of today’s knowledge of addictions,” Mockus said. “It’s a medical problem and in many cases we trust medical persons in their decisions,” he explained.
“There are clear cases in which it is immoral to not give drugs to people that are so sick and so dangerous and in a bad state because of their addiction. So in some cases clearly the state has to pay for it but it cannot be a general rule,” said the former mayor.
While Mockus, who himself served two non-consecutive terms as Bogota’s mayor (1995-1997, 2001-2003), approved of Petro’s policies and policy proposals, he believed a lack of planning has contributed to Petro’s high disapproval numbers.
“He could have gained many points on these issues but…it was too much improvising or he didn’t involve himself personally in a strong way,” said the former mayor.
During his two terms, Mockus introduced a number of quirky, but effective initiatives to fix the city’s problems; he famously hired hundreds of mimes and clowns to make fun of traffic violators, in the belief that drivers were more afraid of ridicule than fines.
While Mockus admitted the clowns would not have the “shock factor” for Petro, he asserted that the mayor must continue with broad reform such as the drug consumption centers and the gun ban if he is to silence his many critics.