Expectations of the New Government of FICO Gutiérrez in Medellín - Medellin Advisors

Expectations of the New Government of FICO Gutiérrez in Medellín

FICO Elected Alcalde of Medellin

Expectations of FICO Gutierrez's New Government in Medellín

As the new year begins, so too does a new governmental period in the city of Medellín. One in which Federico Gutiérrez (“FICO”) will return to the mayor’s seat to govern the country’s second most important city. FICO will be picking up where controversial former mayor Daniel Quintero left off after his 4 years in office. In this article, we will analyze the current situation, challenges, and expectations of the new government; all in this special edition of politics.

Fico Gutierrez Mayor of Medellin 2024-2028
Federico Gutiérrez "FICO" is Medellín's mayor once more and will serve from 2024 to 2028.

FICO Won the Medellín Mayoral Elections with Strong Citizen Support

Federico Gutierrez is a civil engineer, security consultant center-right politician, and leader of the political party Creemos Colombia. Gutiérrez returns to the administrative building of the Alpujarra. He was already mayor of Medellín in the 2016-2020 period. In 2022, FICO Gutiérrez was a presidential candidate however failed to make it to the second round of the election process.

FICO was elected for the 2024-2028 term in the local elections held on October 29, 2023. He obtained a solid and unobjectionable victory with 697,910 votes, equivalent to 73.63% of all in total. This was the highest vote achieved by an elected mayor as his closest opponent, Carlos Upegui, received just 95,963. This is 601,947 less than Federico and represents just 10.11% of all votes.

Fico won the October 29, 2023 Elections with more than 73% of the valid votes
Fico won the October 29, 2023 election with more than 73% of the valid votes.

In the 2023 territorial (local) elections in Colombia, the opposition sectors won in 19 of the 32 departments of the country. This includes capital cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Barranquilla, and Medellín. The popularity of Gustavo Petro’s government has been declining since his arrival to power in August 2022. According to the latest Invamer poll, published on December 13, 2023, President Petro’s approval is 30%, while disapproval is 66%.

In a bid to address the nation’s biggest challenges, FICO has called on President Gustavo Petro, whom has been a tenacious opponent, to convene all political, social, and citizen forces of the country.

Chronicle of FICO's Victory in Medellín Elections

It is convenient to analyze: what are the reasons for FICO’s return to Medellín? On the night of Sunday, October 29, 2023, the authorities of the Registraduria Nacional del Estado Civil officially announced FICO’s electoral victory over Juan Carlos Upegui. The main loser, however, was not Upegui, but former Mayor Daniel Quintero. It is no coincidence that Quintero has been the mayor with the worst image in more than 20 years. For some analysts, Quintero’s ambition was such that he placed his friend Juan Carlos Upegui, his wife’s cousin, as heir to his dwindling electoral capital, even though Upegui lacked FICO’s charisma and experience. Quintero’s idea was to stay in power and control the city government in a foreign body. This maneuver was rejected by the people and, as expected, Upegui was defeated resoundingly not only by Fico Gutiérrez but by all sectors of Medellín society, who categorically rejected Quintero’s intentions to perpetuate himself in power through Upegui.

Juan Carlos Upegi was chosen by former mayor Daniel Quintero to prevent FICO from coming to power.
Juan Carlos Upegi was chosen by former mayor Daniel Quintero to prevent FICO from coming to power.

Thus, despite the support of all the resources of the incumbent mayor’s office and a powerful strategy to attack Gutiérrez, Quintero and his political movement have been significantly beaten in this race and are in danger of disappearing. The spectacular and epic victory of FICO Gutierrez in the recent elections was predicted by all the polls, even those of his detractors on the left. Daniel Quintero’s desperation was such that a few weeks before the race, Quintero resigned from the Mayor’s office to openly campaign for Upegui and thus avoid, at all costs, the arrival of FICO to power. All these efforts were in vain; the people have spoken firmly and given a mandate to FICO to be the mayor of all Medellinenses today.

Daniel Quintero tried in vain to raise Upegi's campaign by resigning from the mayor's office, but it was too late.
Daniel Quintero tried in vain to raise Upegi's campaign by resigning from the mayor's office, but it was too late

Medellín's Current Situation - Lights and Shadows

The administration of former Mayor Daniel Quintero Calle, a leftist, is highly controversial. On the one hand, for his supporters, he developed a policy of investment in the poorest sectors of the city. Granting resources for education with the policy of Gratuidad con Buen Comienzo, Matrícula Cero, and Computadores Futuro, among others, and focusing his discourse on the fight against social inequality.

Daniel Quintero's administration has high rates of rejection by the population.
Daniel Quintero's administration has high rates of rejection by the population

Another positive point is that Daniel Quintero categorically defended the interests of the city against private businessmen involved in the scandalous Hidtroutuango Project, ensuring that the city recovered billions from insurers. The negative aspect of this matter is that he also maintained tense relations with the prosperous Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (GEA), led by business giants such as Sura, Argos and Nutresa, as well as the media and detractors.

Daniel Quintero has maintained a critical position of the main companies in Medellin.
Quintero - rejected by Medellin's businessmen, which caused a resounding defeat of his political movement in 2023

This constant confrontation between the local government and the private sector was the sword of Damocles and the trigger for the plummeting popularity of Daniel Quintero. He has a historic disapproval rating of 79% according to recent polls. Therefore, it is no coincidence that people, tired of such a polarizing style of government, literally united in Medellín to defeat Quintero’s candidate, Juan Carlos Upegui.

Daniel Quintero will go down in history not only as the mayor of Medellín, with the lowest popularity ratings, but he leaves a heavy legacy for FICO. According to the team of the new government, the city’s finances are in the red with a budget deficit of more than 2.8 billion pesos. Quintero leaves the city with several investigations for corruption, embezzlement, and administrative irregularities. So, it is not surprising that in the coming months, news and legal actions will continue to emerge.

Daniel quintero
Daniel Quintero's government faces several allegations of irregularities and corruption.

Based on these results and the recent elections. It is evident that the people have spoken clearly and are demanding change in the direction of the city. The results obtained by FICO are overwhelming and legitimize solid support for its government program.

Challenges for FICO in Medellín's New Term in Office

Some of the challenges that the new FICO government in Medellín will face are the following:

1). Increase in thefts, robberies, and property crimes: Reports of these crimes exceed 28,000 in 2022. According to the official figures from the Colombian Police, there has been an increase in the incidence of crimes against private property, such as theft, burglary, and extortion. These crimes primarily affect citizens without distinction of social class. Therefore, the new mayor should work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure higher levels of security for the city’s residents. Regaining control of popular neighborhoods affected by common crime and dangerous criminal gangs should be a priority goal for the new mayor.

2). Increase in monetary poverty and malnutrition: Medellín has 1,062,812 people in critical situations; 41% of the city’s inhabitants. This represents an increase of 15% compared to 2019. In 2022, more than 30,000 children were at risk of chronic malnutrition. Concerning poverty levels, inequality, and opportunities, the challenge is great given the recent slowdown of the Colombian economy. There is a ‘perfect storm’ on the horizon where inflation is hitting the poorest and private investment has been reduced in recent times, leading to a decrease in consumption.

Personal insecurity, robberies and violence is one of the main problems still affecting some areas of the city.
Personal insecurity, robberies and violence are some of the main problems still affecting areas of the city.

FICO must act quickly to prevent national indicators from generating more poverty in the thriving city of Medellín. Paradoxically, Medellín is a special case that is difficult to explain, as economic growth has been positive in recent decades despite the fluctuations in the national situation. So, what is the reason for the so-called: “El Milagros Paisa”?

In reality, for over a century, the city has developed a diversified economy that has evolved. Initially focused on agriculture and coffee as drivers of the local economy. The textile industry later emerged. More recently, the commercial and service sectors have flourished, driven by foreign investment and tourism. FICO must instill confidence by building bridges with the business community to attract private investment, enabling the creation of job opportunities that lift the population above the poverty line.

Medellín is the first District of Science, Technology, and Innovation in the country, and has been since 2021. This has resulted in a unique attraction for technology-based companies to invest and install in the Software Valley, so given its marked differences with the national government of Gustavo Petro, left-leaning, it is difficult to imagine being received in Bogotá to obtain the resources needed for successful management. So, FICO should seek entrepreneurs to invest in the city and probably look abroad for companies to come to settle in the city.

FICO must partner with police to improve safety levels in the city
FICO must partner with police to improve safety levels in the city

3). Low educational quality and dropout: Medellín has the worst indicators of school repetition at all levels, additionally, school dropout has increased from 2.9% in 2019 to 5.1% in 2022. In 2024, 95% of public schools have infrastructure failures.

4). Poor garbage management, and deterioration of physical infrastructure such as sports centers and schools: Despite having more resources, investment in infrastructure decreased by 53% under the previous government, so most Medellinenses feel that the city has fallen into decay and is full of garbage and debris.

Poverty and unemployment are the second most important problems for the people of Medellin.
Poverty and unemployment are the second most important problems for the people of Medellin
Fico must act quickly to address city's most pressing problems
Fico must act quickly to address city's most pressing problems

5). Dissatisfaction with public services and distrust in the management of EPM: Citizens feel that the quality of public utilities such as water, gas, and electricity is lower. The efficiency of the main company of the city has been affected by the political tension and hostile takeover of the previous government.

FICO Gutierrez Government Program 2024-2028

In his government program called “Medellín Creemos en Vos” 2024-2028, Mayor Federico Gutiérrez sets forth the following objectives and action plans for his new administration. Among them we have:

1). Citizen Security: To reduce levels of insecurity and urban violence. To provide financial, operational and technological support to police forces.

 

Improving insecurity levels a point of honor for Mayor FICO
Improving insecurity levels is a point of honor for Mayor FICO

2). Economic Development: To consolidate alliances with businessmen and investors to generate jobs in the city. He additionally aims to promote entrepreneurship and strenghten business as an axis of the local economy, providing access to financing for projects of interest to the communities.

Fico knows that much of the success of his administration depends on the support of Medellin's businesses for the economy.
Fico knows that much of the success of his administration depends on the support of Medellin's businesses for the economy

 3). Universal and Quality Education: FICO wants to attack the problem of school dropouts and the deterioration of physical infrastructure. He also plans to provide support to communities excluded by the current system. In his previous administration, Mayor FICO went to the poorest neighborhoods to look for children to go to school with the full support of the Mayor’s Office. This was a successful endeavour that reduced school dropout rates in the city.

 
Fico promises to reduce school dropouts in Medellin again.
Fico promises to reduce school dropouts in Medellín again

4). Ensuring access to health: Through risk management and enhancing mental safety, the Mayor promises social inclusion, with special attention to:

  • The elderly
  • Young people
  • Women
  • Children
  • Street dwellers
  • People with disabilities
  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Ethnic groups
  • Migrants
  • Victims of conflict.
 
FICO has pledged to work for everyone in Medellin
Mayor FICO has pledged to work for everyone in Medellín

5). Infrastructure: Chiefly the construction of the Metroplús, which will operate in the Avenida Oriental sector, the ‘La 80 corridor’, and a new MetroCable in Picacho, among others.

Fico must finish projects of the previous mayor and leave a physical legacy for the people of Medellin.
Fico must finish projects of the previous mayor and leave a physical legacy for the people of Medellin

6). Mobility: FICO will take measures to reduce vehicular congestion, with efficient management of the city’s access and transportation routes.

Vehicle traffic in Medellín is a problem that FICO will face in its new government
Vehicle traffic in Medellín is a problem that FICO will face in its new government

7). Environment: FICO promises to improve garbage and waste collection and implement a water resource management plan to make Medellín a sustainable city with less pollution.

Mayor FICO wants to make Medellín a model sustainable city in the country
Mayor FICO aims to make Medellin the country's first sustainable city

8). Strengthening of the Medellín Public Company (EPM): To raise the confidence and efficiency of EPM, one of the most important icons for the city. EPM had lost credibility in recent years, becoming embroiled in the political diatribe of the previous government. Recently, FICO appointed a new management which will have the task of recovering the entity and putting it back in line with the interests of all Medellín’s diverse inhabitants.

Arquitectura y empresa edificio epm rio medellin
FICO aims to recover EPM and improve its efficiency

Conclusions

 FICO begins his second term as mayor of Medellín, with an advantage, not only because of his unobjectionable electoral victory but also because of all his necessary support in the Municipal Council. This will allow him to undertake concrete actions to improve the attention to the main problems that afflict the people of Medellín, such as insecurity and social inequality. 

Additionally, the mayor has the experience of successful management in the 2016-2020 period where he finished with record-high approval ratings of 85.8%. So, he knows the most urgent needs he will have to face. This isn’t his first ‘rodeo’ in office, so to speak.

Another point in favor is that the elected Governor of the Department of Antioquia, of which Medellín is a part, is Andrés Julián Rendón of the Uribista party Centro Democrático. This gives more political support to FICO’s management since he is a natural ally of its management. It is expected, therefore, that there will be a harmonious working relationship between these two forces, thus benefiting the city. Both FICO and Rendón as local governments can carry out projects for the collective benefit, and exercise counterweight against the leftist National Government of Gustavo Petro, when necessary.

The political alliance of the Governor and Mayor will allow projects to benefit Medellin.
La victoria del Gobernador y Alcalde dentro del mismo sector politico, permitira el desarrolllo armonico del gobierno regional en Medellín

 

FICO has called on all sectors to work towards the recovery of growth, progress, and development of Medellín. In general, he hopes that his government will be able to fulfill its objectives and overcome the open wounds of the previous government.

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