New Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro vows to raise taxes for the rich and decree a full ban on carrying weapons as one of many measures to decrease inequality in Colombia’s capital city and lower the city’s crime rate.
Petro, an economist and former guerrilla of the demobilized M-19, announced the pillars of his policy in the coming three years will be security, environment, education, child care and citizen participation in local politics.
The new mayor, who has minority support in Bogota’s city council, said he will decree the full ban on carrying weapons which will be evaluated months from now.
“Owning weapons will not be forbidden, this is guaranteed by law. What will not be allowed is that they are taken to clubs, buses and bars, that we kill each other. We want Bogota to be a space that is free of arms,” said the mayor.
The ban on carrying weapons is one of a number measure his administration vowed take to curb insecurity that worsened over the administration of former Mayor Samuel Moreno, who is now in jail on corruption charges.
To ensure a focus on public security, Petro announced the creation of a Security Secretary that will focus on the reduction of violent crime and the improvement of public security.
Petro promises water and education “revolutions” that guarantee free potable water and education for the city’s lower class. The newly-inaugurated mayor also promised to guarantee health care and food for the approximately 360,000 children living below the poverty line. The city’s minority middle and upper class will see an increase in taxes to pay for this, said the mayor.
“When certain middle class gentlemen or higher than middle class gentlemen tell me ‘no, Petro, don’t create taxes’. When the powerful gentleman says ‘no more taxes’ he is taking the money for the education, the love, the health from 360,000 babies to who we want to deliver the money of Bogota most of all,” said Petro.
“Policies of love are policies of solidarity. And solidarity is not about giving a handout once every so often or to march once every so often or appear on a television marathon with a cheque. Solidarity is when you have the income, you pay your taxes,” the mayor said.
To combat Bogota’s infamous traffic congestion, Petro announced to also tax those who have a car and invest this money in public transport initiatives like the creation of a metro, trams and cable-car systems.
Apart from forcing bus companies to move from gasoline-driven cars to hybrid vehicles, Petro vowed to implement measure to protect Chingaza, Sumapaz and Bermeo, nature reserves bordering Bogota, to improve the quality of the environment in the contaminated city.
Bogota’s new mayor called on the city’s residents to take part in discussion forums that will be held to discuss the city’s Development Plan, budget and Territorial Development Plan.