Sergio Fajardo Valderrama

Mayor, 2004-2007
Medellín, Colombia
Focus Area(s)
Getting the News Out/Managing Expectations
Critical Tasks
Building citizen support
Making services accessible
Overcoming corruption
Matthew Devlin
Country of Reform
Date of Interview
Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sergio Fajardo discusses the role of transparency and planning in the transformation of Medellín, Colombia. Elected as an independent, he began his tenure without previous negotiation with political elites, which allowed him to escape the tradition of patronage and clientelism. Fajardo’s approach was based on sequential planning and strategic implementation of a number of projects that focused on education, cultural reform and social inclusion. Although he increased land taxation and dedicated the first year of his tenure to planning rather than action, Fajardo credits effective communication strategies and transparent linkage of public finances with development work for the successful management of popular pressure. Under the motto “Let’s Work Together,” he established partnerships with the national government, Medellín city councilmen, relevant groups like the teachers’ union, and the affected neighborhoods, or comunas.  Fajardo attributes another major achievement of his administration, the improvement of the security situation in Medellín, to working relationships at these different levels.  He describes how he capitalized on national negotiations by providing for the reintegration of demobilized paramilitaries. At the local level, his long-term strategy to stave off violence focused on providing alternatives to illicit work by allocating resources to the most disadvantaged areas, reclaiming public spaces from the grip of insecurity, and fostering dialogue to create a sense of collective ownership. 

Case Study: From Fear to Hope in Colombia: Sergio Fajardo and Medellín, 2004-2007

Full Interview

Sergio Fajardo Interview
Trained as a mathematician, Sergio Fajardo Valderrama worked in academia at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá. Campaigning as an independent, he won election as mayor of Medellín and served in that office from 2004 to 2007. His tenure was characterized by a number of ambitious public works projects that garnered international recognition. After this term ended, Fajardo worked as a political commentator for several Colombian news outlets and joined Antanas Mockus’ 2010 presidential campaign as the vice presidential candidate.
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