Can Medellín change its image?, by Alcides Gómez, Forrest Hylton & Aaron Tauss (Le Monde diplomatique

In the Pablo Escobar neighborhood, Medellín, September 2021

Jorge Calle · Anadolu · Getty

FROMs José María Córdova International Airport in Rionegro, there are two routes to Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia (2.5 million inhabitants). However, you will first pass through the highlands of the Oriente Cercano (Middle East), with some of the most expensive real estate in the country, much of it owned by former President Álvaro Uribe (currently on trial for corruption and tampering with witnesses). High-end restaurants, bars and malls, as well as luxury SUVs and sports cars, dot the roadside. Greenery is abundant, the air is clear and smells of pine, and it rarely goes above 24°C.

It’s easy to see why Medellín’s elite and middle class prefer the suburbs to the city center. Whether you take the first route, through the exclusive neighborhoods of Envigado and El Poblado, then descend 600m to the valley floor, or the second, cluttered with dump trucks, tractor-trailers, of cars and motorbikes, through the lower middle class town of Gúarne and the harsh slums of the northeast, your eyes, nose and throat will suffer.

Pablo Escobar’s war against the Colombian government in his later years made Medellín the homicide capital of the world. These days, the city’s bloody, well-sanitized history of gangsterism is part of its appeal

Depending on the time of year, air pollution obstructs the view of the valley or the surrounding mountains. Road traffic and construction noise is overwhelming; poverty is everywhere, even in quiet residential neighborhoods with private security guards. Novelist Héctor Abad Faciolince regards the valley as one of Dante’s infernal circles – a circle in which the poor are confined – but the town’s trademark has gained an international reputation.

Known as “the city of eternal spring”, Medellín is, in the words of the New York Times “one of the most progressive cities in Latin America” ​​thanks to “infrastructure projects that bring libraries and exciting parks to poor neighborhoods, and creative methods of (…)

Full article: 3,073 words.

Alcides Gomez, Forrest Hylton &

Aaron Tauss

Alcides Gómez, Forrest Hylton and Aaron Tauss are respectively researchers at the National University of Colombia, the National University of Colombia and the Federal University of Bahia (Colombia) and the University of Vienna.

(1) angosta, Seix Barral, Barcelona, ​​2003.

(7) Caroline Doyle, ‘Perceptions and realities of urban violence in Medellín, Colombia’, International Journal of Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, vol 8, no 2, 2019.