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Enrique Penalosa

Enrique Penalosa Londono is a Colombian American journalist and politician, former mayor of Bogota, from 1998 until the year 2001. He was a runner-up for a second term on October 2007.


Early life

In his childhood Penalosa studied at the middle school Gimnasio Campestre and later at the high school Colegio Refous in Bogota. After graduating he then moved to Durham, North Carolina in the United States where he studied Economics at Duke University. For his doctorate he moved to Paris, France where he completed an MBA; while studying there he also worked part-time as a washer in a restaurant and as bellboy in a hotel.


Penalosa began his political life by attending the liberal presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan's Youth groups of followers in Bogota while working for the state-owned water supply company, Empresa de Acueducto de Bogota. He later supported Julio Cesar Sanchez, a Cundinamarca local political chief, who in return, helped him get elected as that department's Deputy.

He later was chosen by president Virgilio Barco, friend of his father, as an economic advisor in 1986. In 1990 he ran for the congressman without the support of any politician and got elected with 22,000 votes, but only remained in that position for a year because the Colombian Congress was closed due to corruption and a referendum for a new Colombian Constitution was proposed. However in those 12 months, he presented many projects and managed to pass with others a reforming law to change congress.

In 1991 he then decided to run for mayor of Bogota with the same tactics he used to gain his seat for Congress, without the support of any politicians and by just doing person-to-person contact while touring the city walking, biking or riding on public transportation. He ran against Jaime Castro Castro who ultimately won the election. In 1994 he ran for a second time, this time against Antanas Mockus, who defeated him by a large margin.

Mayor of Bogota

In 1997 he ran a third time, now facing Carlos Moreno de Caro [*] winning by a close margin of votes. [*] Penalosa received from Mayor Mockus a city in good fiscal condition and with a District Council that was mostly independent. [*]

Penalosa included many of his political friends in his cabinet including long time friend Carlos Alberto Sandoval who had worked with him in Barco's presidency and who he appointed as Secretary of Economy, and Gilma Jimenez in the Family Welfare Institute.

During his mayorship he developed five megaprojects; the bank of lands, the District's system of Parks (including the Bogota's Bike Paths Network), the District's system of libraries, the Transmilenio mass transit system, and road construction and maintenance. [*]

Controversy during his first term

Penalosa was the third in a series of three mayors who vastly changed the face of the city. Mayor Jaime Castro finished his term with low popularity, but was able to rearrange the city's financial structure. This led to a period of budgetary surpluses, which continued during Antanas Mockus term. Mockus began an important change in Bogota's civic culture with his Cultura Ciudadana campaign, which encouraged civic behavior and strived to create a sense of belonging for the inhabitants of the city.

Penalosa's five biggest changes during his period were: the relocation of informal vendors who occuppied the public zones and the streets, the improvement of all the city parks and the construction of several new ones, the entire renovation of some of the most important avenues of the city such as the Avenue 15 and the Autopista Norte, the complete removal of cars from the sidewalks by rising them and putting bollards, and starting construction on the TransMilenio, but during his period less than the half of the project was built, the second phase was responsibility of Luis Eduardo Garzon, his successor, and the third phase is in doubt because the new mayor of the city wants to do a railway mass transit system.

Some of his policies were unpopular with certain sectors of the city. Among these were his intent to buy the Country Club of Bogota and turn it into a public park. He also faced problems when he built Bolardos (small concrete pillars on the edge of the sidewalk) along some avenues in highly congested sectors, which were intended to prevent cars from parking on the sidewalk in front of the buildings and shops. Penalosa also lost popularity points, but improved the city's mobility, by introducing the Pico y Placa, a restriction on the rush hour circulation of private vehicles. .

Candidate for a second term as Mayor

Although he was a possible candidate for the 2010 Colombian presidential election and lead the Por el Pais que Queremos Foundation (PPQ), Spanish for "For the Country we Want", he decided to go for a second term in the city hall. He was defeated by Alternative Democratic Pole candidate Samuel Moreno by 15% of the votes. [*]



[[Democracia y Capitalismo: retos para el proximo siglo]]


Capitalismo, la mejor opcion (Documentary), (1990)


He has written articles for El Tiempo, Nueva Frontera (magazine), Economia Colombiana, Carta Financiera and Revista Diners.


Simon Bolivar Journalism Award 1986 for his economy related journalism section in El Espectador newspaper.

Simon Bolivar Journalism Award 1990 for his Documentary; Capitalismo, la mejor opcion.


"Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people."

"If you base progress on per capita income, then the developing world will not catch up with rich countries for the next three or four hundred years"

"We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality."

"All this (Bogota's) pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity. Were telling people, You are important"

"Every Sunday we close 120 kilometers of roads to motor vehicles for seven hours. A million and a half people of all ages and incomes come out to ride bicycles, jog, and simply gather with others in community."

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Enrique Penalosa

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