Daniel Quintero has resigned from his post as the Mayor of Medellin to join the campaign of Juan Carlos Upegui’s, a candidate he supports to succeed him as the leader of the Antioquia capital. Quintero won the mayoralty in 2019, and his term was set to end on December 31, 2023, when he would be succeeded by the candidate winning the elections on October 29.
Despite all the polls indicating Federico Gutierrez as the clear winner, Quintero has announced his resignation to directly support Upegui’s candidacy. Colombian electoral law prohibits active public officials from participating in politics. For this reason, Quintero was temporarily removed from the mayoralty last year when the electoral authority understood from a comment on his social media that he was supporting then-presidential candidate Gustavo Petro.
Quintero, a progressive in the most conservative mayoralty
Quintero’s victory in 2019 was unexpected. Medellin and the Antioquia department have always been conservative strongholds in Colombia. The left’s election results have traditionally been marginal in this city, which is the home turf of former President Alvaro Uribe and where the left, exemplified by Gustavo Petro, didn’t fare well in the 2022 presidential elections despite his national victory.
Thus, it was a surprise when Quintero won the mayoralty by popular vote, defeating Alfredo Ramos, a candidate from the Democratic Center party, Uribe’s party, by almost 10 points. However, Daniel Quintero didn’t run for election as a left-wing candidate but as an independent candidate. This might explain his victory, as the traditional left-wing parties received poor results in the city, and the population chose a candidate perceived as an alternative to the traditional parties, which had been tarnished by years of corrupt governance.
It was later on that the mayor showed support for Gustavo Petro’s proposals and his progressive government.
Reasons for his resignation
Quintero has announced that the reason for his resignation is “the same one that led me to become mayor.” The outgoing mayor stated that he “cannot stand idly by while traditional politicians attempt to regain power by supporting Federico Gutierrez’s candidacy.”
Daniel Quintero wrote that “Upegui is the only alternative to face off against Fico, Uribe, and the political bosses who want to take control of Medellin,” joining his candidate’s campaign from the moment he left the mayoralty.
However, some analysts haven’t entirely bought into Quintero’s stated reasons for his resignation. Supporting his candidate, Upegui, who, according to polls, has little chance of defeating Federico Gutierrez, has led to a deeper analysis of the causes of this resignation, three months before his term ends.
Given this, many experts in Colombian politics see Quintero’s actions as an attempt to evade disciplinary measures from the Office of the Inspector General, which oversees the conduct of politicians in the country. Quintero has been associated with controversial actions for some time. The latest was a public confrontation he had with an opposition councilor in Medellin.
In that altercation, the politicians exchanged threats, and the mayor lost his temper, severely insulting his rival, who had provoked him earlier. This incident, which will be investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, could add to two other cases pending against Quintero. Accumulating three sanctions would automatically result in his disqualification for three years, which would eliminate him from the presidential race to succeed Petro in the 2026 elections.
Presidential candidate for the left in 2026
Although nothing is confirmed, as the Colombian presidential elections are still three years away, Daniel Quintero has never hidden his interest in running as the left-wing candidate to succeed President Petro.
For this to happen, Quintero will need to earn the support of the various parties within the Pacto Histórico coalition, which supports the president but has different political currents within it.
While it’s not common for a mayor to resign before completing their term, it’s not the first time this has happened in Medellin. Alvaro Uribe also resigned from his position as mayor of the city in 1982. The reasons behind this still generate controversy in the country, as some opponents believe that the president at the time pressured him to resign due to Uribe’s alleged ties to Pablo Escobar’s cartel.