Point Me

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mr. President?

Whilst driving home from work today, I managed to catch a segment about the upcoming Presidential elections in Colombia on NPR. The elections are four days away, and most reputable polling agencies are saying that Juan Manual Santos, the US-backed former Minister of National Defense and will likely win by a great margin. However, the former Mayor of the capital city Bogota, a descendant of Lithuanian immigrants, is really rising in popularity.

I strongly suggest listening to the piece: here

His name is Antanas Mockus, a former collegiate dean and mathematician/philosopher. He is pictured above in his "supercitizen" costume, which he wore while mayor to encourage a more aware and civically engaged populous. As mayor, he also hired over 400 mimes to mock people who committed traffic violations, "because he believed Colombians were more afraid of being ridiculed than fined." He also, as the NPR article mentions, is most notorious for mooning a lecture hall full of rowdy inattentive students during his tenure at the National University. It did get them to shut up....

Even though he's best known for his zany behaviors and gimmicky political initiatives, he actually made a huge difference in the cultural and public life in Bogota. Under his mayorship:
-Water usage dropped 40%
-Clean drinking water became universally available (as opposed to just 79% of households in 1993)
-Homicides dropped 70%
-Traffic fatalities dropped over 50%

Et cetera. He is also a living example of a successful, dynamic leader with Parkinson's Disease. I think it would be really cool to see him become president. He seems to have found just the right mix of weird showmanship and political savvy. Also- Awesome Beard.

You can watch a documentary about him too:

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