Antanas Mockus: Bogotá: A Case of Cultural Agency

enc05_mockus_jp_LgPhoto/ Foto: Julio Pantoja

Lecturer: Antanas Mockus


Antana Mockus is a Colombian mathematician, philosopher and politician, Mockus left his post as rector of Colombian National University in Bogotá in 1993, and later that year ran a successful campaign for mayor in the city. He proceeded to preside over Bogotá as mayor for two eventful terms, in which he sprung many surprising and often humorous initiatives upon the city's inhabitants. His initiatives tended to involve grand gestures, often including local artists or personal appearances by the mayor himself – taking a shower in a commercial about conserving water, or walking the streets dressed in spandex and a cape as Supercitizen. Mockus hired 20 mimes to control traffic and make fun of traffic violators – a program so successful that another 400 mimes were quickly trained. He also initiated a "Night for Women", on which the city's men were asked to stay home for an evening to look after the house and the children. The city sponsored free open-air concerts, bars offered women-only specials, and the city's women police were in charge of keeping the peace. Under his leadership, Bogotá saw remarkable improvement across the board – water usage dropped 40%, 7000 community security groups were formed and the homicide rate fell 70%, traffic fatalities dropped by over 50%, drinking water was provided to all homes (up from 79% in 1993), and sewage was provided to 95% of homes (up from 71%).

Background Information