Carlos Fernando Galán was sworn in yesterday, January 1, as mayor of Bogotá, the capital of the country, for the period 2024-2027. The first day of the year was the date for the winning politicians of the local and regional elections of October 29 to take office. Thus, the 1102 municipalities and the 32 departments renewed mayors and governors for the next four years.
In Bogotá, in a ceremony in the central Bolivar Square, Carlos Galán took over from the hitherto Mayor Claudia López, after the plenary session of the Council. After three failures in the past, Galán won an overwhelming victory in the elections a little more than two months ago, in which he managed to unite the vote against the government of President Petro. The new local leader has two major challenges on the horizon: the completion of the first line of Bogotá’s long-awaited metro system and the fight against organized criminal gangs.
A legacy in the form of works
Galán inherits a capital full of works, with more than 500 actions in progress that are a real headache for the already complex mobility of the city. Of all of them, the construction of the first metro line is undoubtedly the most important challenge for the new mayor, who will have to give the final push to ensure its inauguration in 2028, according to the planned schedule.
Another of the works, this one only partially tendered, is the widening of Calle 13, one of the worst access roads to the west of Bogota. With an estimated cost in the first two sections of 1.3 trillion pesos, it is an essential route for passenger and cargo transportation in the metropolitan region, but its transformation is very slow due to the fact that the bidding process has had to be declared void on several occasions. The project includes a new mass transit system route, TransMilenio, and spaces for bicycle transit.
Also part of the strategic and vital plan to improve mobility is the axis known as Avenida Longitudinal de Occidente, another great work-in-progress with historical delays. This planning, in particular, began 62 years ago, and it is only now that it has really begun to take physical form. The southern sections, which will connect the town of Fontibón with the neighboring municipality of Soacha, have already been completed, but important sections are still missing. Galán has the challenge of finishing and inaugurating it in 2027, at the end of his term of office.
At his inauguration, the mayor stated that he was “aware of the importance of the Bogota Council in the debate on the fate of Bogota: he knows it and its voices represent diversity and criticism. Among the priorities for the administration and this corporation must be security and rethinking how works are done”.
Safety, another key point
Another of the main themes of the new mayor’s electoral campaign was the improvement of security in the capital. This, then, will be another of Galán’s important challenges as mayor, since crime rates and citizen perception of insecurity have increased. In this regard, during his campaign he proposed to set up security councils in neighborhoods, and to implement a team of police officers and coexistence managers who can respond immediately to security situations, in order to speed up access to services.
Additionally, the mayor proposes to install more surveillance cameras, highlighting the use of facial recognition cameras in strategic locations such as Transmilenio stations and terminal stations of the mass transit system. The objective is to expand the agreements for the use of these devices in private surveillance systems and implement artificial intelligence to “identify populations at risk of committing crimes or violent practices”. Transportation is one of the areas where most theft crimes are committed, so the president proposed to overhaul security in these areas in his first three months. His bet is to form an elite corps that will quickly attend the events that occur in the system.
Similarly, the idea is to reorganize the Metropolitan Police of Bogota to have a greater presence in the streets and public spaces, as well as to implement flexible surveillance quadrants for the flow of citizens. Galán also proposes to make the sanctions of the Coexistence Code more effectively enforced and to seek agreements with the Judicial Branch to avoid impunity.
With a “crime prevention route”, the new mayor seeks to offer training and job placement opportunities to young people at greater risk of committing criminal behavior. In addition, through this strategy against recidivism, he will seek to establish a “payment by results” mechanism so that convicted offenders who have served their sentences can be resocialized.
The mayor with the most supporters
Carlos Galán won a resounding victory on October 29. With practically 50% of the votes in the first ballot, he avoided going to a second round, a novelty that had been implemented for the capital to guarantee broad electoral support. For Galán it was not necessary as the politician managed to unite the “anti Petro” vote, obtaining an overwhelming electoral victory.
Galán is the mayor with the most social support in the last thirty years, which in turn implies a great responsibility, since the expectations of the people of Bogota from their new mayor are enormous and results will be demanded promptly. The mayor, aware of this, was very clear on the day of his inauguration.
“I assume the mayorship with great enthusiasm and an enormous sense of responsibility. Bogota needs to see results and see them soon. My commitment is to work tirelessly so that key projects and works move forward. The instruction is clear: we will work with the people and in the street. With transparency, efficiency and integrity”, said Galán during his speech to the citizens in Bolívar Square.