Antanas Mockus

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Antanas Mockus Šivickas
Mayor of Bogotá
In office
1 January 2001 – 31 December 2003
Preceded by Enrique Peñalosa Londoño
Succeeded by Luis Eduardo Garzón
In office
1 January 1995 – 10 April 1997
Preceded by Jaime Castro Castro
Succeeded by Enrique Peñalosa Londoño
Personal details
Born Aurelijus Rutenis Antanas Mockus Šivickas
(1952-03-25) 25 March 1952 (age 62)
Bogotá, DC, Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party Independent
Other political
affiliations
Colombian Green Party
Indigenous Social Alliance Movement
Yes Colombia
Visionarios con Antanas Mockus
Spouse(s) Adriana Córdoba
Alma mater National University of Colombia
University of Burgundy
Occupation Politician, Activist
Profession Philosopher, Mathematician
Religion Roman Catholic

Aurelijus Rūtenis Antanas Mockus Šivickas (born 25 March 1952) is a Colombian mathematician, philosopher, and politician. He has a master degree in philosophy from the Colombian University, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and a Honoris Causa PHD from L’université de Paris.

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, he left his post as the president of the National University of Colombia in Bogotá in 1993, and later that year ran a successful campaign for mayor. He proceeded to preside over Bogotá as mayor for two (non-consecutive) terms, during which he became known for springing surprising and humorous initiatives upon the city's inhabitants. These tended to involve grand gestures, 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. On 4 March 2010, he was elected in a public consultation as the Colombian Green Party candidate for the presidential election in 2010.

On 4 April 2010, Antanas Mockus chose Sergio Fajardo, former mayor of Medellín, as his vice-presidential running mate. On 9 April 2010 he announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.[1] He told La W radio: "The prediction is that this will not affect my mental activities. I think it is absolutely fitting to tell the people about the diagnosis and about the prognosis—which is 12 years or more of normal life thanks to medication."[2] Mockus finished second in the polling, leading to a runoff election with Juan Manuel Santos, which Santos won. Mockus resigned from the Green Party in June 2011 because he opposed its Bogotá mayoral candidate being supported by former right-wing President Álvaro Uribe.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Mockus was born in Bogotá. He holds a 1972 Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France and a 1988 Master of Arts degree in philosophy from the National University of Colombia.[4] He has been a professor and researcher at the university since 1975 and has served as its vice president (1988–1991) and president (1991–1993). As its president, he contributed to the formulation of the Colombian Constitution of 1991, focusing on educational issues.[4] In a notable 1993 incident, when confronted with a disruptive group of students, he mooned them.[5] He later explained his action by saying "Innovative behavior can be useful when you run out of words", and linked it to philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's concept of "symbolic violence."[5] He resigned as University president during the aftermath but gained a higher public profile that benefited his subsequent run for the mayorship.[5]

Bogotá mayorship[edit]

In 1995 he was elected Mayor of Bogotá. Under Mockus's leadership, Bogotá saw improvements such as: 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 sewerage was provided to 95% of homes (up from 71%). When he asked residents to pay a voluntary extra 10% in taxes, 63,000 people did so.[6] His market-oriented social policies were much less successful. Poverty and unemployment levels were high throughout his tenures and continue to be a pressing issue in Bogotá's social life.

Mockus in 2008

Famous initiatives included hiring 420 mimes to make fun of traffic violators, because he believed Colombians were more afraid of being ridiculed than fined. He also put in place one "Women's Night", on which the city's men were asked to stay home for an evening to look after the house and the children.[6] The city sponsored free open-air concerts, bars offered women-only specials, Ciclovia and the city's women police were in charge of keeping the peace. Amassing political support mainly from Bogotá's middle and upper classes, he has been much less successful attracting voters in the national level.

During Mockus' unsuccessful presidential bid in 1998, Enrique Peñalosa replaced him as mayor. Peñalosa worked in a similar way instituting popular new bike paths and bus systems. When Mockus ran again for the 2001 mayorship, he held a ceremony in a public fountain "to ask forgiveness for leaving the mayor's office in an unsuccessful bid for the presidency." The impact of Mockus and Peñalosa on the development of Bogotá is described in a documentary film released in October 2009 with the title CITIES ON SPEED – Bogotá Change.

In 2003 Mockus stepped down as mayor, to be replaced by Luis Eduardo Garzón, and took a year's sabbatical, traveling and speaking around the world. He planned to return to teaching at National University of Colombia the following year, although he said he was "considering the possibility of launching a presidential campaign". After spending two weeks as a visiting fellow at the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in the United States in 2004, "to share lessons about civic engagement with students and faculty", Mockus returned to Harvard as a Visiting Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures to teach two Spanish classes during the Fall 2004–2005 semester. In November, Mockus made a special trip to the University of Virginia to speak about the use of positive social mechanisms in relation to his tenure as the mayor of Bogotá.

In 2004 Lithuanian worldwide daily Draugas chose Mockus as Lithuanian of the Year. In October 2004 he for the first time visited Lithuanian community in Chicago, Illinois, which is the biggest Lithuanian community outside the Republic of Lithuania, and delivered a speech in his native Lithuanian language. He is currently the President of Corpovisionarios, an organization that consults to cities about addressing their problems through the same policy methodology that was so successful during his terms as Mayor of Bogotá.

Presidential bids[edit]

Antanas Mockus and Sergio Fajardo

In between his two terms as mayor, Mockus ran an unsuccessful 1998 bid for the presidency, first in his own name and later as Noemí Sanín Posada's running mate. Mockus ran in the 2006 presidential election as a member of the Indigenous Social Alliance Movement.[7] He finished fourth in the election, attracting 1.24% of the vote.[8]

In August 2009, Mockus and two other past mayors of Bogotá (Enrique Peñalosa and Luis Eduardo Garzón) joined a new political movement, Colombian Green Party and decided that one of them would run for office in the 2010 Colombian presidential elections. Mockus, Peñalosa and Garzón embarked on an innovative campaign, in which they acknowledged and honored each other's qualifications and preparedness for the job, and telling people to choose whomever they liked best. Through a popular consultation carried on 14 March 2010, which he won by a large margin, Mockus became the Colombian Green Party presidential candidate. On 4 April 2010, Antanas Mockus chose Medellín's former mayor Sergio Fajardo as his running mate, unifying two groups at the center of the political spectrum. Mockus finished second in the first round of voting, with 21.5% of the vote, qualifying him to participate in a runoff election with Juan Manuel Santos, which Mockus lost decisively with 27.5% of the vote.

Antanas Mockus left the Green Party in 2011.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Bronstein, Hugh (9 April 2010). "Second-placed Colombian candidate has Parkinson's". Reuters. Archived from the original on 22 April 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Associated Press (9 April 2010). "Colombia candidate discloses Parkinson's diagnosis". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  3. ^ Tom Heyden (10 June 2011). "Mockus quits Green Party over Uribe support". Colombia Reports. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Mayor Antanas Mockus Sivickas, Bogotá, Colombia". Columbia250. Columbia University. 2004. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Romero, Simon (7 May 2010). "A Maverick Upends Colombian Politics". New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Caballero, María Cristina (11 March 2004). "Academic turns city into a social experiment". Harvard University Gazette. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Election Profile: Country: Colombia". International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Presidential Candidate Performance:". International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Retrieved 3 June 2010. 

External links[edit]