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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - EthniCities: Metropolitan Cultures and Ethnic Identities in the Americas
Title Addressing Urban Fear and Violence in Bogota through the ‘Culture of Citizenship’: Scope and Challenges of a Unique Approach.
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 209-226
URL http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/31029011/1.Riano_2011_Adressing_Urban_Fear_in_Bogota-​libre.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1425638403&Signature=yxGFig9lU36YcVnl2FNDaG9iB​uY=
Abstract
Widespread violence and rising crime rates are one of the most challenging governance
problems of many Latin American cities. Bogotá, the largest and most populous
city in Colombia, has 7,259,597 inhabitants (cf. DANE 2009, Colombia). In 1995,
Bogotá represented an extreme case of violence and insecurity in terms of numbers of
homicides (3,657 per year), street robberies (13,027 per year), house robberies (1,301),
bank assaults (382), and traffic accidents (cf. Camacho, “Ciudades” 5). Besides taking
thousands of lives and producing thousands of handicapped people, this situation
caused urban residents to live in an environment of fear, insecurity, and a permanent
lack of confidence in their fellow citizens and in the city’s institutions. Pérgolis summarized
the then prevalent imaginary among the city’s residents with the following
words: “Bogotá of fear. Unliveable Bogotá. City of street robberies, beggars, armed
pedestrians, never-ending traffic jams, uncollected rubbish. Bogotá of panic, intolerance,
and hate” (30). A decade later, dramatic changes had taken place regarding
the relationship of the citizens to their city. Some authors have even spoken of a
“revolution”: Residents are proud to live in Bogotá; they are willing to contribute to
the city’s finances; they are more inclined to respect traffic signals; their participation
in development plans is steadily increasing (cf. Rojas). What is behind such a
transformation? This paper addresses this question by examining the approaches to
urban governance that have been implemented by the city’s mayors since the early
1990s, when the mayors were first elected by popular vote. The paper focuses in particular
on the 1995-2005 period when Mayor Antanas Mockus developed the ‘culture
of citizenship’ approach.

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