In October of 2015, the people of Barranquilla elected Alejandro Char Chaljub to his second term as mayor of their city. He was previously the mayor of Barranquilla from 2008-2011. By the end of this, his latest term, (December 2019), Alex Char and his party will have held the Mayor’s office for 12 years.
In the months leading up to the election in October (2015), the city streets were papered with election promises, political posters of wishful candidates hoping to get elected to public office. Candidates, Char included, were trying to win the peoples’ vote with campaign promises of progress and development. You couldn’t go to the local grocery store without seeing campaign posters or being handed a pamphlet promoting a candidate. And even today, five months after the elections, the posters still hang on buildings and walls throughout the city. Are these reminders of positive change or lost political promises?
Mayor Char was sworn into office on the 1st of January and has had a little over two months to get to work on his campaign promises and the platform he ran on. As a member of the Radical Change party, Char ran on the premise that he would continue what he had started in his first term and what the previous mayor, Elsa Noguera, had already begun as a sort of framework to continue developing the city. The motto of his development plan is “Capital de Vida;’ or “Capital of Life.”
The people of Barranquilla expect Mayor Char to improve their lives by improving the city. One project Mayor Char was excited about was finishing River Avenue which spans from downtown to almost the end of Via 40 at the new convention center. He assured citizens that “We have the resources,” to finish these projects. He also noted that historical downtown needed to be revitalized and that many historical buildings needed to be restored to their original beauty. In doing this, he said that it would bring new businesses and jobs to the downtown area.
During his campaign he also conveyed his concern about the high crime rate and reported muggings and robberies; he assured everyone that he understood their complaints. Apparently, he too is tired of it. “The people of Barranquilla should be able to ‘walk in peace’ from one corner of the city to the other,” he said. He is apparently receiving weekly reports from the police and says that if there’s no improvement, he’ll work to bring in the military for help.
Thus far, Barranquilleros have seen massive construction around the city. Most of the projects focus on the rehabilitation of roads and new parks along with new residential and office towers. In the long run, the new roads and parks will make transportation issues better around the city and give people and their families excellent places to relax outdoors.
It remains to be seen whether or not the crime rate is improving but as it stands, public perception is that there hasn’t been an improvement and many people are fearful of going outside at night. Clearly, dropping the crime rate and making the streets safer would be directly investing in Barranquilleros’ Capital of Life.
Mayor Char hasn’t had a lot of time to deliver on his promises. We’ll continue to watch and we’ll let you know how well he’s doing.
Video Courtesy of the City of Barranquilla.