Medellín, Colombia

BACKGROUND

In 1991, Medellín had the highest homicide rate of any city in the world (380 per 100,000 people), a rate which has since dropped more than 90% (2015). The home of the infamous Medellín cartel, led by Pablo Escobar (d. 1993), drug trafficking and inter-cartel and gang violence has been – and still is – at the heart of the social and criminal problems the city faces. Since the demise of the powerful Medellín and Cali cartels, Medellín suffered like much of Colombia in the Armed Conflict between left-wing FARC rebels, government security forces, and right-wing paramilitary groups.

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NATIONAL OVERVIEW

National counter-terrorism policy in Colombia has long focused on efforts to counter narcotics trafficking, money laundering, extortion and the reign of violence against communities which successive gangs, trafficking organisations and armed groups have wrought across the country. This has necessitated a heavy focus on policing, criminal investigation, intelligence and inter-agency and international cooperation. In particular, Colombia has worked closely with the United States on countering narco-trafficking and directing military operations under the ‘Plan Colombia’. Recent progress in negotiations with the left-wing FARC rebel group to end the decades-long bloody armed conflict has received wide-scale international attention in the build up to, and following, the national plebiscite of 2016 and the resumption of negotiations towards an agreement. President Santos was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his leadership in efforts to bring peace through the negotiation process.

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LOCAL OVERVIEW

Medellín has multiple local action plans designed to prevent violence, promote peace-building agendas and develop approaches to integration, cohesion, rehabilitation and public safety. Many of these fall within the remit of the current 2016-2019 Development Plan, ‘Medellín cuenta con vos’. The plan builds on previous iterations, including ‘A more humane Medellín’ (1998-2000), ‘Competitive Medellín’ (2001-2003), ‘Medellín, a commitment for the entire citizenry’ (2004-2007), ‘Medellín is solidary and competitive’ (2008-2011), and ‘Everybody for Life’ (2012-2015). More detail on each of these plans, as well as comprehensive overview of Medellín’s local political approach can be found in the Medellín Charter produced by City Hall.

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KEY SOURCES & FURTHER READING

Official Strategy Documents & Action Plans

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Other Resources

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LOCAL POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

Name: Federico Gutiérrez

Role: Mayor of Medellín

Federico Gutiérrez