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Leftist Mayor of Colombia’s Second-Largest City Temporarily Removed From Power Amid Scathing Federal Investigation

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The Office of the Inspector General of Colombia reported the provisional suspension of Daniel Quintero Calle as Mayor of Medellín. The decision was given after the release of a video in which the mayor made a political statement in favor of Gustavo Petro, the left-wing candidate for president, an act prohibited by Colombian laws. In the video, he appears in a van holding the gearshift and moving it to the left. “Shift, to first gear,” he said making a clear reference to his support for Petro.

“The Office of the Inspector General has the constitutional and legal competence to investigate, provisionally suspend and sanction, up to dismissal and disqualification, all public servants in the country, including those of popular election,” said Attorney General Margarita Cabello Blanco.

After learning of the situation, the mayor described the decision as a “coup d’état” and blamed former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez. “Democracy is at risk. They want to remove us from office to intervene in the presidential elections.”

However, this is not the first electoral irregularity committed by Quintero Calle. Several media have denounced, for example, the use of public funds of the Mayor’s Office for the campaign of Gustavo Petro in the presidential race.

The magazine Semana also published on May 11 that officials of the Mayor’s Office of Medellín were pressured to march in favor of Daniel Quintero Calle. The pressure, as denounced by the councilman for the Democratic Center party, Simon Molina, would have been given through WhatsApp messages.

“In the evidence that Councilman Molina — who is part of the opposition group of the city administration — holds it can be read the phrases that would have been issued by members of the mayor’s cabinet,” the media reports.

Colombian Senator Paola Holguín listed the electoral irregularities in which Daniel Quintero Calle has allegedly participated and how he has been involved in the presidential campaign of leftist Gustavo Petro, even while serving as mayor.

“Mayor Daniel Quintero is no fool, but he is feeling all-powerful because he has permanently violated the Constitution and the Law. He has multiple complaints for corruption and never the controlling authorities have operated against him. That had him in a state of megalomania and feeling of superiority that he thought that nothing could happen to him until it finally did,” Holguín assured to Semana magazine.

A bad management for Medellín

Despite the fact that the suspension from office was due to his participation in the presidential elections, Quintero Calle’s administration in Medellín did not keep citizens happy. For example, insecurity increased between 2020 and 2021. “According to the Police, three modalities of robbery increased in Medellin between 2020 and 2021. The most delicate is theft, which went from 17,776 cases to 22,900 (increased 29 %),” explained El Colombiano.

In addition, garbage has been another issue that Quintero Calle has failed to address. Publimetro Colombia did a report on this problem in Medellín. “I don’t understand how Medellín went from being a very clean city to a filthy mess. It hurts the city to see how there is garbage in so many places, before, during and after the downpours. I walk through different sectors every day and I see how it has worsened. It is horrible, I have never seen the city so filthy,” said Elss Danney Zuluaga, a Medellín resident, to Publimetro.

Feminicide has not been reduced in the city either, despite being one of the banners of the left. Personería de Medellín recorded a 13% increase in femicides between 2020 and 2021.

“The Personería de Medellín, in the fulfillment of its mission to guarantee the rights of diversity and different population groups, constantly monitors cases of femicide, transfeminicide and violent deaths that take place in the city,” the agency detailed.

Quintero Calle’s management has affected his approval among citizens. A survey published in February 2022 reveals that he had a disapproval of 48%. Thus registering his lowest popularity with 42%.

In addition, the study shows that at least 64% of voters in Medellín consider that things are getting worse. “With this result, the president’s figures dropped 13 percentage points since the last measurement in December 2021, in which he registered 56% approval,” reported the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

Williams Perdomo es periodista y escritor, especializado en las fuentes Política y Cultura.

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