A disaster called Enrique Peñalosa

Year 2017 started with some intense political activity in Bogotá Colombia, signalling what appears will become the trend for the new year. On January 2nd, four different political movements registered their intention to initiate a recall referendum process to remove Enrique Peñalosa from its mayoral position.  According to opinion polls, Peñalosa is the most unpopular mayor since 1991 when the new constitution introduced the electoral system for mayors in Colombia.  The results reveal that 78% of the people of Bogotá disapproves the performance of the mayor during its first year in charge (1).

The situation occurs despite Mr. Peñalosa constantly receiving strong support from the country’s established media and from all the political parties except the left leaning Polo Democrático.

Source: Bogota Como Vamos

site: http://www.bogotacomovamos.org/documentos/encuesta-de-percepcion-ciudadana-2016/

A fake resume and false claims of doctoral and master degrees in Paris

Among the diverse reasons for Peñalosa’s high public disapproval, the first and a very important one was the public outrage caused when researchers associated with the newspaper El Espectador raised questions about the veracity of Peñalosa’s academic credentials.  In fact, Peñalosa was not shy to highlight in his official election campaign video that he held Doctoral and Master degrees in Public Administration and Government from the University Pantheon-Assas of Paris. In April and May 2016 El Espectador published several articles detailing the irregularities found in Mr. Peñalosa’s Curriculum Vitae and demonstrating that the mayor never undertook doctoral or master studies in the prestigious university (2). After the serious revelations, Peñalosa’s response was unapologetic. He said that he was proud of his curriculum vitae, that academic titles were irrelevant and that he had never needed an academic title to get the job he wanted and that all the noise created about his academic titles was just political persecution (3).

A bus that is better than a train and the trams that are like a cancer

However, what have made Peñalosa the most unpopular mayor in the modern history of Bogotá was his decision to cancel an ongoing project for the construction of an underground metro line, a project developed by the previous administration of mayor Gustavo Petro from the leftist party Polo Democratico . The project was in an advanced phase of its design and studies had already cost millions of dollars. The explanation given by Peñalosa for the cancellation was that the underground was a too expensive toy that the city of Bogotá could not afford.  This decision caused much public outrage because one of Peñalosa’s election campaign promises was to give continuity to the project. On a televised interview, he improvised a justification aimed to calming the waters, according to which he would be able to build an elevated metro line for the 3rd of the cost of an underground and utilise the remaining money to expand his trademark BRT. Furthermore, he insisted that that the BRT was a more efficient way of public transport than the Metro line and for this reason the elevated metro he proposed should be supplementary to the BRT. He also cancelled several light rail projects with the stroke of a pen while claiming that trams were expensive toys, and that trams were like a cancer (4).

These decisions and the situation created around them came in contradiction to the mayor’s previous opinions about elevated metro lines. He had repeated several times in the previous years that elevated trains were ugly and deteriorated streets and their surroundings, he even highlighted that cities around the world were demolishing elevated lines and mentioned that cities like London and New York invested more money in buses than trains.  Many people in Colombia suspected that as the BRT is Peñalosa’s preferred public transport solution, the proposal for an elevated metro, which Peñalosa never wanted to build, was just a strategy to distract the media and the people with a controversy about a metro while he carried out his plans for the expansion of the unpopular BRT.

 C1-d6dAXcAA5j_X (1).jpg
Twits by Enrique Peñalosa remarking why elevated metro lines should not be built.
Source: https://twitter.com/CarlosCarrilloA
site :https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C1-d6dAXcAA5j_X.jpg:large

There are more ambulances than needed for this city

In May, 2016 the Peñalosa administration decided not to renew a contract to 90 of the 174 ambulances that provided medical emergency services to the city of around 8 million people.  Councillor Julio Cesar Acosta warned that situation which was already critical with only 174 ambulances and had become worse because 94 ambulances was a too small number for a city like Bogota. The response from Peñalosa was that the number of ambulances was sufficient, that there were more ambulances than needed and that by not renewing the contract the city would save 50 million COP. It did not take long for the crisis to manifest itself when the reports of people dying while waiting for ambulance started to appear in the traditional media and on the internet. The response from Peñalosa to the criticism was to say “in all the cities of the world people die while waiting for an ambulance”. Minutes earlier the Secretary of Health had asserted that “for sure those things will continue to happen” as an indication that the decision was final and it was not going to be rolled-back (5).

Invading an independent republic of crime to rescue some real estate

By the end of May, 2016 Peñalosa led a raid on one the poorest blocks in the center of Bogotá nicknamed the L street or the Bronx. He has decided to put an end to what he called an independent republic of crime at just few meters from the City Council building. He had a plan for that street, according to his own words he was going to expropriate that piece of real estate taking advantage of its very low price and turn it into a construction project to renew the city centre (6).

However, he had not finished publicly declaring success and mission accomplished in front of the TV cameras and on his twitter account when the consequences of bad planning started to unravel and create problems across the city.

Peñalosa had a view of the L street as a place of organised crime that was a no-go zone for the police. In reality, the so-called Bronx of Bogotá was a sector of abandoned real estate where an undetermined number homeless people lived, many of whom were children [estimates vary with figures between 500 and 3000 people].  During the raid these poor people were forcibly removed from the squats they had been living in for years and given no choice they spread by foot across the city causing fear among the population as well as a strong reaction from human rights activists. The emergency escalated by the hour and got worse the following days.  A group of homeless people decided to look for refuge in a rain water canal which later on at night flooded after strong overnight rains killing at least to people by drowning (7).  Peñalosa was accused of treating poor people as dispensable things and of putting the priority of construction projects above the protection of vulnerable people. Peñalosa washed his hands by saying that protecting people was not in his jurisdiction (8). Few days later, the mayors of other cities, some as far as 1000 km from Bogotá, started to complain that Bogotá had put their homeless people in buses just to drop them on the streets of other cities. They announced measures such as checkpoints on the roads leading to their cities to prevent more arrivals (9).

The city of the future

Another controversy that has damaged Peñalosa’s image originated after his decision to release the land of a Natural Reserve located in the North of Bogotá for the construction of three major BRT routes. The Van der Hammen natural reserve, as it is called, is an area of 1,395 hectares where Peñalosa has the grandiose dream of building a city for 3 for million people, a city he calls Ciudad de Paz (City of Peace). When confronted about his decision, he shunned the natural reserve as a paddock where there are only cows and grasslands, and disregarded recommendations from the local scientific community and environmentalists about the need to protect that land (10).

Rescuing marine life from an aquarium to let it die

A recent even that exposed the incompetence of Peñalosa and his team was the confiscation of 40 ornamental fish from an aquarium at a shopping centre in Bogotá. Camilo Prieto, an environmental activist had reported the presence in the aquarium of a Bamboo Shark, a fish that was too large for the dimensions of the aquarium. In January 3rd, 2017, one day after four political movements registered the intention of running a recall referendum to remove Peñalosa as a mayor of the city, the mayor had decided to take some action to repair his image that had been damaged due to the promotion of a construction megaproject in the terrains of the Van der Hammen Natural reserve, and gave the order to confiscate the fish from the aquarium.  Due to a lack of proper manipulation the fish died the following day, however Peñalosa was not updated about the unfortunate incident with the fish and posted in his twitter account “we have rescued 40 wild and exotic marine animals illegally exhibited in the Atlantis Plaza shopping centre. Began investigation to prosecute.”

It was then leaked to the media that the fish had died. In January 6th, El Espectador wrote in an article titled “What happened to the fish confiscated from Atlantis?” mentioning that a source close to the case had informed that newspaper that the fish died due to lack of a proper place to maintain marine fauna.  Despite this, the Secretary of Environment refuse to provide an update on what had happened to the fish “in order not to affect the ongoing investigation”.  As the pressure built up the government was forced to provide a press release announcing that “the fish were euthanized to comply a United Nations agreement to which Colombia is also a signatory” and argued that foreign species were a threat to the national fauna (11).  The public did not buy this explanation,  how 40  ornamental fish in an aquarium in a shopping centre in Bogotá, a city located in a plateau at 2,000 meters above the sea level and more than 400 km away from the ocean, could threaten marine life?.

Twit posted by Enrique Peñalosa. By the time the twit was posted the fish had already die due to mishandling by his own Secretary of Environment team.  Translation: “We rescued 40 exotic wild marine animals illegally exhibited in the Atlantis Plaza. Initiated investigations to prosecute.” Source: https://twitter.com/EnriquePenalosa

What could be worse?

After one year in charge and nothing to show apart from twits, slogans and the support from his powerful friends, the people of Bogotá got a perception of Peñalosa as a reckless, unethical and unscrupulous politician who has no regard for their opinion and interests and who is willing to say absurdities and lies to stay in power and to benefit himself and his close friends. There is sense frustration among the inhabitants of Bogotá, they feel that the city has lost its chance again, that progress has been held back several more years because the bad decisions and policies dictated by Enrique Peñalosa.


(1) Bogotá Como Vamos (2016), Encuesta de Percepción Ciudadana. Retrieved from https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3232731/Encuesta-De-Percepcio-n-Ciudadana-2016.pdf.

(2) Akerman, Yohir. (2016). Peñalosa y su falsedad ideológica. El Espectador. Retrieved from  http://www.elespectador.com/opinion/penalosa-y-su-falsedad-ideologica-0

(3) Radio LaFM. (2016) interview with Peñalosa. Deleted from Original site: http://www.lafm.com.co/bogot%C3%A1-y-cundinamarca/noticias/enrique-pe%C3%B1alosa-dice-que-pic#ixzz4AKjLqwFo?platform=hootsuite  https://t.co/WCZfcFU6jI . A copy of the recording still can be found  at Denunciando.com. Me siento muy orgulloso de mi hoja de vida: Peñalosa.  http://www.denunciando.com/politica-y-sociedad-85/1019519-me-siento-muy-orgulloso-de-mi-hoja-de-vida-penalosa.html#ixzz4WRVETyUo

(4) Caracol Radio (2016). Tren de pasajeros regional es como “un cáncer” alrededor, necesitamos Transmilenio por todos lados: Peñalosa. Retrieved from http://caracol.com.co/emisora/2016/04/11/bogota/1460398631_859931.html

(5) Kienyke. (2016). Con el tema de las ambulancias: A Peñalosa se le ‘chispotió’. Retrieved from http://www.kienyke.com/historias/penalosa-ambulacnias/

(6) El Tiempo. (2016). Peñalosa alista planes para revitalizar el sector del ‘Bronx’. Retrieved from http://www.eltiempo.com/bogota/planes-de-penalosa-para-el-bronx/16498956

(7) Kienyke. (2016). Caño arrastró a exhabitantes del Bronx mientras dormían. Retrieved from http://www.kienyke.com/noticias/cano-bronx-penalosa/

(8) Riaño, Alex. (2016). Para Peñalosa los habitantes de la calle son desechables. Retrieved from http://www.las2orillas.co/para-penalosa-los-habitantes-de-la-calle-son-desechables/

(9) Alsema, Adriaan. (2016). Bogota’s solution to homeless problem: Put them on the bus to other cities. Retrieved from http://colombiareports.com/bogotas-solution-homeless-problem-put-bus-cities/

(10) El Tiempo. (2016). La franja que pone a Peñalosa a defender su primer megaproyecto. Retrieved from http://www.eltiempo.com/bogota/reserva-thomas-van-der-hammen/16496112

(11) Romero, L. D. (2016). ¿Qué pasó con los peces incautados en Atlantis?  El Espectador. Retrieved from http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/bogota/paso-los-peces-incautados-atlantis-articulo-673506

Posted in Bogota mayor, Bogotá, Colombia, Corruption, Enrique Penalosa, Fake Degree, Fake Doctorate, Fake PhD, Fictitious Doctorate, Fictitious PhD, Politics, Recall Election, Recall Petition | Leave a comment

A brief political biography of Enrique Peñalosa

Enrique Peñalosa always explains that he was born 1954 in Washington DC, because at the time his 24-yo. father, Enrique Peñalosa Camargo, worked for the World Bank.

As many members of the political elites, he started his education in Bogota at Gimnasio Moderno where his father also studied. However, when he was 15, his family suddenly had to leave Colombia because his father, who was the Minister of Agriculture for the Administration of President Carlos Lleras, had been accused of corruption and the consequent political scandal was of such intensity that almost forced the resignation of the President of the Republic. In an attempt to stop the debate and saving his administration, Carlos Lleras decided to send him to Washington as an ambassador’s’ attaché. As result, young Enrique Peñalosa was brought by his parents to the US where he completed his Secondary.

After completing his high school studies, he enrolled in Duke University thanks to a soccer scholarship. After 4 years of studies and representing the university in soccer competitions, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and economics. By this time, he was 21 and became conscious of the fact that if he wanted to take advantage of his pollical extraction and make a political career in Colombia he had to resign to his American citizenship, so he did. This turned out to be the wisest decision of his life.

According to his own accounts, he could not find a professional job in the US because one of his professors had labelled him “a communist” even though he had stopped being one before he joined the university. Ironically for him, despite being the member of a wealthy family, Enrique Peñalosa had no other option but to accept menial jobs as cleaner, dish washer or selling shoes during his time in the USA.

At the age of 23, and disappointed because of the “impossibility” of finding a job other than a low rank labourer he left the US in 1977. At that point he decided to travel to England with the intention of roaming the Old Continent as a backpacker. Shortly after that, he discovered Paris and fell in love with City of Light, so much that he said to himself “I will not leave this place”. In Paris, he lived in a ‘chambre de bonne’ on the Rue de Poissoniers where he tells he had to share bathrooms with African migrants. In Paris, he did not sit idle, he obtained a job in a hotel at night as porter and also worked cleaning floors and washing dishes in Dunkin Donuts, and during the day he worked as research assistant for the Inter-American Development Bank. From Paris, he actively participated in the politics of his country by writing articles that he sent to Nueva Frontera, a magazine owned by former president Carlos Lleras and whose deputy director was Luis Carlos Galán. He used his free time to complete master and doctorate studies in Public Administration at the University of Paris II (Pantheon-Assas).

In 1980, he returns to Bogotá and starts his participation in politics by joining the new party created by Luis Carlos Galán, at that time he obtains his first job as a manager in an agricultural company that produces tomatoes in green houses. This same year he gets a job as lecturer in economy at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. In 1981 he gets married.

Between 1982 and 1985, he worked for a number of public organisations, he was researcher for ANIF (National Association of Financial Institutions), subdirector of the Department of Planning of Cundinamarca, Deputy of the Bogota Assembly, vice president of the Aqueduct of Bogota, dean of the Faculty of Administration of the Universidad Externado de Colombia among other jobs.

According to him, 1986 was his best year, his daughter was born, he was elected Councillor for the District of Bogota, he won the Simon Bolivar Journalism Prize from El Espectador, and was chosen as economy advisor by the newly elected President Virgilio Barco (1986-1990), who was a close friend of his father. During this time, he published two books, a first one titled “Democracy and Capitalism: challenges for the next century” around 1987, and a second one with the title “Capitalism, the best option?”

During the 90’s Enrique Peñalosa put his name forward as pre-candidate for the liberal party for the position of Mayor of Bogotá; he lost at every attempt against more experienced and articulated candidates. In 1994 Peñalosa along with other influential members of the Colombian society signed a letter supporting Alvaro Uribe’s proposal for legalizing the so-called self-defence paramilitary groups under the name of CONVIVIR, a word that means ‘coexist’.

Finally, in 1997 he wins the elections for mayor of Bogota after a campaign in which he promised to solve the mobility problems of the city by building the first metro line. During the campaign he presented himself as a candidate without any links to the political elites and as a technocrat, this latter assertion supported by his own claims that he was the only candidate to hold a PhD in Public Administration. Once in charge as mayor, Peñalosa did not build the subway he promised and instead he deviated the moneys that President Ernesto Samper had approved for the construction of the subway line to the construction of Bus Rapid Transit, which he later revealed he had secretly planned before the elections based on the Curitiba model. He named the Bogota system Transmilenio meaning ‘transportation for a millennium’. He justified his ‘sudden’ change in plans by claiming that the BRT was much cheaper and faster than a subway. This manoeuvre was illegal, but he proudly described it during an interview to journalist Jairo Gomez as it was a master stroke.  The interview was published in a book titled “Transmilenio, the Jewel of Bogota”.

The approximately 48 km of BRT that Peñalosa built brought some temporary order to the chaotic traffic of the Caracas Avenue of Bogotá and for this reason when Peñalosa ended its term as a mayor in 2000, the media labelled it as a success.

After the construction of the BRT system in Bogotá Peñalosa became a BRT consultant for Volvo and years later he was appointed CEO for the ITDP in New York, from where, using the experience of Bogotá as a showcase, he travelled around the world to convince every city he visited of building BRT systems instead of subways or metro lines.

In the meantime, Transmilenio started to show serious problems, the first one was the quickly deterioration of the concrete bus lanes that were supposed to last 20 years but that had cracked and were broken after two years of heavy use. The cost of rebuilding the bus lanes was a financial burden to the city which had to divert the money required to build more BRT routes to the maintenance of the defective concrete lanes.


As the problems with Transmilenio mounted and its capacity was saturated, the deficiencies and inadequacies of the BRT system became known worldwide. And although successive administrations of Bogotá more than doubled the extension of Transmilenio, Peñalosa who was a true believer of the superiority of BRT over subways accused them not making enough investment and efforts to expand and improve the system and attacked them for their ‘ridiculous’ plans for building an ‘unnecessary’ subway.

In 2007 he decided to participate in the Bogotá elections for the term 2008-2011 with the promise of fixing Transmilenio. However, he lost the election to the leftist candidate Samuel Moreno who had promised to build the subway. Moreno’s metro was not built because he was accused of corruption, his administration was in disarray and he ended up in jail. Peñalosa tried in the 2011 elections but lost again, this time against Gustavo Petro. Petro, a highly influential left-wing politician invested his political efforts in the planning and design of the underground line which by the end of his term in 2015 was in an advanced state and ready for tender.

Peñalosa tried his luck in the 2015 elections, and yet again he promised to start building the metro line from the first year of his administration and to fix all the Transmilenio problems. Similarly, he launched a campaign in which presented himself as the only Colombian politician to hold a PhD in public administration and now he was claiming an extensive experience as designer of urban spaces around the world. He obtained the united support the right-wing parties of Alvaro Uribe and German Lleras who were determined to defeating the left-wing candidates. Peñalosa won the elections with just 33% of the votes.

In January 2016, he took charge of his position as mayor of Bogota, which started with controversy because he was the CEO of the ITDP. Several days after his possession and due to intense public pressure, he reluctantly resigned to his position at the ITDP.

Peñalosa’s first administrative decision as mayor was to suspend the metro project started by his leftist predecessor. This decision was supported by President Juan Manuel Santos and the right-wing establishment, who agreed with Peñalosa that Bogotá was a too poor city to undertake the construction of an underground.

However, this controversial act caused a great deal of discontent among the population of Bogotá who did not buy the argument of poverty as an excuse to not build the subway because it was well known that poorer cities in the Americas had already built or were in the process of building subways.  As a consequence, Peñalosa lost credibility as an honest politician. A few popular movements were created with the intention of calling for his removal as a mayor and started to collect signatures for a recall election.

Despite all this, Peñalosa did not stop there, he also suspended among many other projects the construction of several tramways, the restoration of old railway lines and the purchase of over 600 electric buses.

His explanations on the media exacerbated the discontent among the population, he said that that “trams were a cancer everywhere” and that “people thought that subways were good because they did not know about them”, he also said that in reality “subways were stinky rat holes were people urinated around”.

A few months later, two academic researchers published an article in El Espectador, Colombia’s second largest newspaper exposing inconsistencies in the mayor’s public résumé, particularly in relation to his claims of having completed master and PhD degrees in Public Administration in Paris. The researchers were suspicious about the timeline of his CV and the large number of activities Peñalosa claimed to have done during the three years he spent in Paris. These revelations fueled the support for the recall election and caused panic among the establishment. Alvaro Uribe travelled to Bogotá to show his support for Peñalosa and to provide some advice to him on how to handle the public opinion. Peñalosa started to talk again about building a metro, but this time it was going to be an elevated metro of his own design and he promised to start building it within six months if he was not removed from his position.

Peñalosa was also hard pressed to publicly admit that he had not undertaken Master of PhD studies in Paris and although his false academic claims constitute a crime under the Colombian law, the investigation against him was let to expire and was archived by the Chief Prosecutor Humberto Martinez Neira a close friend of his.

It was revealed by some politicians within German Lleras party that the reason for the suspension of all the projects that the Petro administration had initiated was the believe among the establishment that if these projects were successful Petro would win the next presidential elections, a hypothetical but likely situation that an elitist establishment that has been in control of the country’s institutions for over two centuries considered catastrophic.

With similar arguments, the recall election against Peñalosa was stopped by the Electoral Commission in violation of the constitution despite the fact that its promoters collected twice the number of signatures required for its approval. The decision was based on a technicality, that the receipts for the snacks consumed by the organizers during the recall elections campaign were not provided.

The establishment was certain that if the recall election took place Peñalosa would lose and that this event would trigger a catastrophic domino effect that would end up with the country and its institutions falling in the hands of the left parties or ‘the terrorists’ as some right-wing politicians normally refer to them.

Peñalosa’s image and reputation remains in tatters. The new President Ivan Duque has seen his own image affected in a negative way for publicly declaring support for Peñalosa and other corrupt politicians. By January 2019, Peñalosa had not yet fulfilled the main promises made during his campaign which he reiterated in the most critical moment of his administration of starting to build a metro within six months if he was not removed. Similarly, he had not fixed the problems of mobility of Bogotá which he promised to fix in one month, nor he had added one more kilometre to the length of Transmilenio despite asserting repeatedly that it is the transport of the future.

Posted in Bogota mayor, Bogotá, Colombia, Corruption, Enrique Penalosa, Fake Degree, Fake Doctorate, Fake PhD, Fictitious Doctorate, Fictitious PhD, Politics, Recall Election, Recall Petition | Leave a comment

The silent extermination of the Wayuu people

Translation: The silent extermination of the Wayuu people

One year after the IACHR approved precautionary measures for the protection of the lives of the Wayúu People established in La Guajira, Colombia, more than one hundred children of this ethnic community have died from causes associated to malnutrition

In December 11, 2015, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favour of the Wayúu people; We celebrated the decision with the hopefulness of a real change, of a real transformation that responded to our clamour to the Colombian state  for the protection of the Wayuu children’s right to life and by guaranteeing their access to drinking water, proper food supply, as well as effective access to the health system and immediate medical treatment for the malnourished children.

The Shipia Wayúu Association of Traditional Authorities, which gathers 900 native villages, had approached the authorities at different levels through their indigenous leader Javier Rojas in order to bring the humanitarian crisis of the Wayúu People up to their knowledge, but he did not find anyone willing to listen. The sense of despair mounted as members of the Community continued to die, with the child population being the most affected. At that time, in 2014, the Ombudsman ‘s Office determined that the number of malnourished children had reached 37,000, whereas the indigenous authorities reported that thousands of children had died in recent years, life projects truncated by hunger and thirst. In reality, many of them never existed for the State because their births and deaths were not officially registered, the homes’ cemeteries accounted for this sad reality which was impossible to hide or to leave in the oblivion.

Journalist Gonzalo Guillén has exposed and given visibility to the Wayúu’s humanitarian crisis in his documentary “They stole the river“, which was brought as evidence before the IACHR, the international instance to whom we turn to inasmuch as the Colombian state’s own structure, which self-proclaims as a state of social law, was not capable of addressing the situation. This crisis could not wait, because the consequences of the permanent and systematic violations of human rights became direr day by day and no organization or authority wanted to be involved with this problem. The easiest and most practical attitude seemed to be joining the ranks of indifference.

The litigation before the IACHR took almost one year, during which time the Colombian State attempted to demonstrate some diligence. The President of the Republic moved to the Guajiro territory; even prenteded to provide some peace of mind by claming that there were not “thousands” of dead children, as had been reported by the indigenous authorities, but just “hundreds” of them, and stressed that there was no census to be certain about the figures of the population, so he ordered a rigorous “microfocalization”, as well as other actions that clearly did not match the magnitude of the tragedy caused by years of state abandonment, nevertheless this was as an immediate action that appeased the collective concern.

The despair of the Wayuu Community that I represent was intense; despite the mistrust and hopelessness, consequence of many years of government indifference, we had placed all our hopes into this legal action before the IACHR; The Community knew that because of the nation’s inability to guarantee and protect their human rights, I brought their case to an international court. I had reported every child’s death and every situation in detail, to evidence the need for an urgent intervention in the face of the severity of the situation.

Finally, we received the long-awaited verdict. As the news of the IACHR’s decision on precautionary measures broke, it was stimulating to see how an entire country united in celebration through the mass media. Journalists from around the world documented the news and overall situation of the ethnic community. Interested in the subject they moved into the territory to learn firsthand what was happening, and were able to perceive that what was said about the crisis, which seemed an exaggeration, fell short in the face of reality.

Achieving these precautionary measures for a Wayuu Indigenous Community that had been abandoned to their fate was a huge legal triumph as well as a national shame the fact that an intervention of the state by an international body was required for something so obvious as the protection of the lives of a vulnerable population that were dying of hunger and thirst. But it is even worse that despite this demand, the children continue to die.  Over a year after the IACHR’s pronouncement, the number of children killed by causes associated with malnutrition exceeded one hundred, a figure that did not include pregnant mothers or underreporting.

The actions and multimillionaire investments reported by the government as evidence of compliance with the precautionary measures are not reflected in the reality of the territory where the children in the “rancherías” still pass an entire day with a glass of corn chicha as the only food; As they lack of clean drinking water, they  consume contaminated water, if there is any; The distances between communities and medical centres, as well as the lack of transportation, make the access the health service almost impossible, since by walk it takes hours under the inclement sun, with no hydration and carrying a sick child or making him walk. Furthemoer, to obtain care, they must return to the rancherías to the same conditions in which they contracted their illnesses; where they survive, without a nutritional follow-up, or a permanent doctor and without a decent food supply to overcome malnutrition and its serious consequences. It is a vicious circle that requires will to break it and to move forward, not simply lukewarm wipes.

Guardianship actions issued by different local judicial authorities have protected the rights of the Wayúu children, replicating the precautionary measures of the IACHR that remain in force. The Ranchería river, the most important water flow in the region, is still dammed; In the meantime, the indigenous people continue burying their dead children and demanding the fulfillment of their rights; The media continues to document their deaths; The officials in charge continue to put the blame on the habits and mores of the Community and on the corruption, that exists in their own organization, which they are not able to control, and therefore they are avoiding the issues.

2016 and 2017 began with a count of dead children. This only proves to us that the situation of the Wayuu is more than a crisis; It is an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy occurring under the presidency of the Nobel Peace Prize, where the absence of war is celebrated, but not the presence of social justice.

[1] Advocate of the Wayúu Community before local and international instances. M. Human rights. Director of the Legal Office of the Law Program of Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano (Bogotá, Colombia). Twitter: @carosachica.

This is translation of an article published in PERSEO under the title “El silencioso exterminio de la comunidad indígena wayúu”.  The original in Spanish was written by Carolina Sáchica can be found at the following URL: http://www.pudh.unam.mx/perseo/el-silencioso-exterminio-de-la-comunidad-indigena-wayuu/  This article is considered of public interest because of the serious allegations of crimes against indigenous peoples of Colombia.


Posted in Colombia, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Indigenous Peoples, Native Colombians, Politics, Racism | Leave a comment

Enrique Peñalosa and his falsification of facts

This is translation of an article published in El Espectador. Original written by Yohir Akerman can be found at the following URL: http://www.elespectador.com/opinion/penalosa-y-su-falsedad-ideologica-0   This article is considered of public interest because it concerns the life of a Colombian politician whose name is recognised by transport organisations around the world.

In April 7th, 2016, researchers Juana Afanador and Carlos Carrillo published an article in which they disproved that Enrique Peñalosa, the Mayor of Bogotá, had a doctoral degree or PhD in Public Administration from France as it stated in many of his public profiles.

According to the findings of Afanador & Carrillo, his doctoral thesis cannot be found in the library of the University of Paris II. Nevertheless, they did recognize two books written by the current mayor in which his biography outline includes a PhD from that university, and several official web sites where the same claim is made (see “Such doctorate of Peñalosa does not exist”).

Embarrassing, but not much happened.

The mayor’s office quickly responded that a reference to a PhD in one of the Capital District’s web site pages was a typo made by some journalist and that it had been corrected, even more, senator Carlos Galán, a loyal benefactor of Peñalosa, quickly twitted that the mayor had never said that he held a PhD and posted “Here is the CV that Peñalosa presented for the Public Position, for you to stop lying”.

However, a deep look at the issue reveals that the one who has to stop lying, is someone else. In the official format of the CV published by senator Galan as incontrovertible proof of the mayor ‘s transparency , is written that “doctor” Peñalosa is economist and historian; that he is graduated with a 4-semester Master completed in 1979 and that he completed a 2-semester  postgraduate degree in Public Administration completed in September 1980.

This is consistent with what is now written about the burgomaster in the City Council’s web site which states that “Peñalosa has a BA in History and Economy from Duke University. He obtained a Master in Government from the International Institute of Public Administration of Paris and a DESS in Public Administration from the University of Paris II.

But there is more; from the same producers of doctor Peñalosa does not have a doctorate, next comes: Mr mayor neither has a Master degree.

According to the CV published by Galán and the official profile on the city council’s web site, the Master from the Institut International d’Administration Publique (IIAP) of Paris had a duration of 4 semesters. Although that is difficult to corroborate because in year 2002 the IIAP ceased to exist as independent entity and merged with the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA), it is not impossible.

Researchers Afanador and Carrillo discovered a certification issued by the IIAP of Paris on the 3rd of April of 2000, in which the Secretary General of the IIAP certifies that the student Enrique Penalosa, of Colombian citizenship, born in September 30th 1954, was in fact in that institution between August 29th, 1978 and July 6th, 1979.

However, the certification clearly shows that Peñalosa did not attend a four-semester master in government as the official CV states, but instead declares that for 11 months he took lessons in the area of “Modern Methods in Public Administration”.

Afanador and Carrillo contacted the ENA’s international students’ services and the answer was that, if well, it is difficult to establish an equivalence, given the time and the changes in the French degrees, these courses are in no way equivalent to a Master degree. The courses taken by the mayor are not included in any education cycle and consisted of a specialisation without thesis.


But beyond any other embarrassing anecdote of the embellished academic history of the burgomaster, this one appears to be an episode of fraudulent misrepresentation in public document. A crime.

The Colombian law is clear, since according to the Criminal Code and the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, the person or public servant who makes fraudulent statements or entries in a public document that are called to be truthful, will incur in “ideological falsehood” and can be penalised with up to 15 years of inability to perform public functions or even prison.

A serious matter.

Above all, because unlike the lies in an infinity of interviews and reviews in which mayor Peñalosa let to think that he held a Doctoral degree, in this case it is a false statement registered in the CV format he completed to take charge of his mayorship position and in which he is giving wrong information to the Public Function Administration Department. This has administrative consequences.

In the same way, the lies about his nonexistent PhD have moral consequences, regardless of how many times he repeats that it was the mistake made by a journalist. The page autographed with his own handwriting in one of his books, where is written that he holds a doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Paris, proves that the mayor felt so proud when he “dedicated with much admiration and respect” to a former president a text that said something untrue about his career .

Self Biography Brief 1986

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Thus spoke Enrique Peñalosa about his fictitious PhD

Interview with Simone Candida of O Globo, Brazil, published on September 15th, 2015 for a column titled “Tell me something I don’t know”

I was born in Washington, DC. I am 60. I resigned to the American citizenship when I was 21. I am married with two children. I graduated as economist and historian with a doctorate in Paris”. I have advised governments of the five continents on urban policies. I was mayor of Bogotá from 1998 to 2001 and candidate to the presidency of Colombia in 2014.”


From interview given to Patricia Lara Salive and published in El Espectador, Colombia on May 17, 2014 in an article titled “The day when Peñalosa started to be who he is”


In Washington, he enrolled in a public school, completed his high school and stood out as soccer player, for this reason he obtained a scholarship in Duke University where he studied economy and history. There he reached the age of 21, and resigned to his American citizenship. “You are crazy!” said the American ambassador at the time. The diplomat seemed to be right: a boy who had completed high school and university in the US, and lived in that country, was closing doors if he stopped being American. However, by that time Peñalosa had already decided that he would work in politics in Colombia because his roots and dreams were there.

While studying his high school and university, Enrique Peñalosa Londoño, the eldest of five siblings, worked to sustain himself. For this he cleaned floors, washed dishes and used to sell shoes. When he graduated from Duke his long hair fell over his shoulders and he asked the employment office to help him to get a job. He worked as a construction worker because he was never called for job interviews, and that he found very strange. Then, he found out that even though most of his professors gave good references of him, one of them said that he was communist, and in fact, he had been one since the age of 11 when in school he had to bear the bullying because of the progressive views of his father. However, Peñalosa had ceased being one before he completed the university, because he had found the inefficiency of socialism and hence its failure. Nevertheless, his dream remained intact: he wanted and he wants to build a society “where there is equality, where the general interest prevails over the particular one, where the rich has no more value than the poor and where the rambling values of the corrupt ones are despised and where the one who teaches more is respected, not the one who has more”.

Due to the impossibility of getting a job other than a low rank labourer, in 1977 Peñalosa flew to England with the purpose of roaming the Old Continent with his backpack. However, when he arrived in Paris he fell in love with the city and he said to himself: “I will not leave this place”. There he lived in a ‘chambre de bonne on the ‘Rue de Poissoniers’ where he shared the bathroom with the African and Caribbean immigrants who occupied the 15 rooms of that floor. He worked in a hotel as night porter and did a master and a doctorate in public administration.

From Paris, Peñalosa used to send articles to Nueva Frontera, a magazine publication directed by Carlos Lleras, a hero of his father, from whom he kept “some ugly drawings the old man used to make while he spoke to people.”


From an interview given to Andres Pinzón-Sinuco of El Universal, Colombia, published on January 12th, 2014 in an article titled “A good politician is like an artist”


Were you born in Washington?

Yes, because my father was a young professional and worked for the World Bank. But I was there for around two months. I grew up in Bogotá until I was 15. After that my family went back to Washington because my father had to work for the Inter-American Development Bank, thus, I finished high school in Washington. Among other things I obtained a soccer scholarship in Duke University, North Carolina, in the US, during 7 years. Then I was in Paris three more years. This means that I stayed out of my country since the age of 15 to the age of 25. In Paris, I studied Administration and Public Administration, there, I did a master and a doctorate.”

What jobs did you do at that time?

I worked full-time for over two years as low rank construction worker in Washington. My rank was so low that I was the only non-African descendant. This was between holidays and after the university. I worked cleaning floors in the restaurants, as waiter, and washing dishes.

In Paris, I worked every year as night porter in a hotel, four nights one week, three nights the next one. I also clean trays and floors in Dunkin’ Donuts. During the day, I used to work in the Inter-American Development Bank as research assistant and at night at Dunkin’ Donuts. I worked in thousand things, in Seven Eleven which is open 24 hours. This is not the story of someone who works two months, it was years.”


From the autobiography brief found in the inner covers and flaps of two books Enrique Peñalosa published around 1989


Enrique Peñalosa Londoño was born in 1954. In 1986 he received the Simon Bolivar Journalism National Prize in the category of Economic Journalism. He published the book ‘Capitalism: the best option?’ in addition to numerous articles in magazines and newspapers.

Doctorated in Administration in the University of Paris; economist of Duke University; Professor of Economy and Administration and dean of Administration of the Universidad Externado de Colombia.”

Picture Source: http://cdn.latincorrespondent.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Solapas-Pe%C3%B1alosa-710×580.jpg


In April and May 2016, Colombian newspaper El Espectador published several articles discussing the irregularities found in Mr. Peñalosa’s Curriculum Vitae and exposing that the mayor never undertook doctoral and master studies in the prestigious University of Paris II. Peñalosa reacted angrily to the revelations of the press and gave several interviews with the purpose of persuading the public that everything published in the media had been a misinterpretation and misrepresentation of facts. Here are some of those replies and interviews.


Official Response from the mayor’s office published on April 7, 2016 in El Espectador, Colombia, in an article written by Juana Afanador and Carlos Carrillo titled “Such PhD of Peñalosa’s does not exist”


In the official Curriculum Vitae of mayor Enrique Peñalosa there is not mention of doctorate. There is a B.A in History and Economy of the Duke University and a Master in government from the IIAP of Paris and a DESS in Public Administration of the University of Paris II.

This is the CV that Enrique Peñalosa used as candidate and uses today as mayor. The same document has been sent to several journalists, when they have required, one of them was sent to the editor of the Bogotá section of El Espectador, Alex Marin.

This is the one he submitted to the relevant authorities as requisite when he took the oath as mayor and today is kept in the archives of the Secretary General.

Enrique Peñalosa have never said himself he has a doctorate. The presence of the word “doctorate” in the web page www.bogotá.gov.co was the mistake of a journalist who had the task of writing all the profiles of the new arriving team. It could have been a bad interpretation of the title DESS in Public Administration of the University of Paris. The typo has been corrected.


Interview given by Enrique Peñalosa to Caracol Radio on April 10th, 2016.


I have never said  that I hold a PhD. I did a DESS in public administration and some people saw this as a post master degree so they interpreted it as doctorate.”


Interview given by Enrique Peñalosa to RCN radio on April 10, 2016.


There are different interviews Mr Mayor, dozens of interviews where you have said in first person that you have a doctoral degree adding to that are the flaps of a book …

no, no, pardon me… you just said something that is not true, I have never said that I have a doctorate. Never.”

Not even on an interview in first person?

“Nowhere. Never.”

Neither did you put that in the flaps of a book?

“No, never. Pardon me. Neither in any résumé I had ever said that I hold a doctorate.”

Not even in the flaps of a book?

“No. It was a book that, besides, has restricted circulation… look, the issue is a topic about equivalence. OK? The person in that occasion 25 years ago, who put that in the book flaps, that I had a doctorate, which was a book for private circulation that you do not sell in the bookshops, etcetera, did it by mistake. What happens is that my degrees do not have an equivalent in Colombia, therefore sometimes those who interpret them become creative, but I have never said in any résumé that I have a doctorate

Mr Mayor, but I have here an interview with the newspaper O Globo in which you speak in first person and you say that you have a doctorate.

No. Nowhere”.

Mr Mayor, didn’t you say that in 2015?

“No, it is not true.”

But it says: I was born in Washington, I am 60 …  …. I have a doctorate in Paris. This is written with quotation marks, in first person.

“No, it is not that way. Never. Never. It is a simple thing… Look … again, this is what happens, and we go back to the same topic. First, my graduate studies, that BA in the American university is equivalent to nothing here. Second, I have a degree in public administration, a postgraduate study of 11 months, from the International Institute of Public Administration of Paris. That is sort of equivalent to a master degree, but is not a master, so again, you don’t know exactly what that means. OK? Third, I have another postgraduate degree, which is a DESS. They call it a degree of third cycle in France. Therefore, again, since those who translate do not understand neither what the first is, neither the second, neither the third, they make their own equivalence. Besides, there is another interesting topic about that discussion and that is that this is a political discussion. First, I never submitted my resume to the political campaign, never. This is a political discussion, they had to go and dig out about this topic because I have never said in a résumé that I have those degrees. Now, the degrees that I just mentioned were never presented, absolutely, in any public forum.  Therefore, what we are doing here is politics and I, sincerely, feel very proud of my curriculum vitae



Posted in Bogota mayor, Bogotá, Colombia, Corruption, Enrique Penalosa, Fake Degree, Fake Doctorate, Fake PhD, Fictitious Doctorate, Fictitious PhD, Politics | Leave a comment