The NGO Temblores and the Action Program for Equality and Social Inclusion (PAIIS) of the University of Los Andes organized a debate with the candidates for mayor of Bogotá in the public space on social justice .
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The appointment was yesterday at the Hippie Park. The moderator was María Jimena Duzán, who recorded an episode of her podcast A Fondo there. The idea of the debate was to talk about some topics that are usually unrelated or perhaps ignored in other debate spaces in the middle of the campaign for the regional elections.
In the particular case of Bogotá, the construction of the subway and other mega-projects in the capital are usually the most discussed topic in the mayoral campaign every four years. In this debate, therefore, it was proposed to the candidates not to discuss this issue, which will surely have other spaces to be debated.
The idea, then, would be to talk about social justice. The attending candidates were Rodrigo Lara, independent candidate for the Liderazgo Amplio movement, Gustavo Bolívar, for the Pacto Histórico, and Juan Daniel Oviedo, for the Con Todo por Bogotá movement. They were joined by Nicolás Ramos, who attended without invitation but was accepted by the other candidates to also answer the questions posed by the organizers and the moderator.
The candidates Jorge Enrique Robledo, for Dignidad y Compromiso, and Carlos Fernando Galán, for Nuevo Liberalismo, excused themselves.
The debate was broadcasted and can still be seen on YouTube.
Social justice: a rarely discussed topic
The topic of debate, then, would be social justice. It was divided into several parts. The first one was a memory pill, in which the candidates were put in a situation that the current mayor of Bogotá was in to find out if they would have acted the same or differently. Among these hypothetical scenarios from the past, administrative decisions were mentioned in the face of the pandemic, the social outbreak and the situations in the prisons of Bogotá.
Then, in the second part of the debate, the candidates had to answer specific questions about the measures they will take, if they win the mayor's office, to address some little-discussed problems in the city. Among these problems were the problematic relationship between citizens and the police, drug use in the city, gender disparity, and overcrowding in prisons.
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It was clear that the candidates are not very well versed in social justice issues. Although several of them have concrete proposals about the city's infrastructure and other issues relevant to its administration such as security and mobility, we really do not hear concrete proposals when it comes to social justice.
There were no large differences between the responses of one and the other, so there was no dissent. Each candidate's response was more of an expansion of the other's proposal, but there were no major differences on these issues. Everyone, of course, proposed changing the prison system, empowering women and reconciling citizens with the police. In fact, everyone had a bad experience with the police to tell.
Perhaps the issue on which there were the most differences was drugs; since the left-wing candidate, Gustavo Bolívar, advocates for regulation of drugs for adult use; while candidate Lara, more oriented towards the right, showed concern about the possible exposure of childhood to this type of substances.
More debates have to be done on issues of hunger, right to the city, vulnerable population and gender equality to force the candidates to strengthen their proposals on these issues.
The regional elections in Colombia will take place on October 29.