BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
MEDELLIN — When 4,000 foreign visitors – including bankers and policymakers – gather here on March 27-31 for the 50th annual general assembly of the Inter-American Development Bank, they will encounter plenty of red-hot topics to discuss, including the growing global crisis and its effect on Latin America.
However, outside the city’s modern Plaza Mayor convention center they will also encounter another red-hot topic – how to radically transform cities considered basket cases into models of urban renewal.
"Medellin has experienced an impressive change," says Mateo Restrepo, a former New York banker and presidential advisor who is the day-to-day manager of this year's IDB assembly. "Medellin is today an urban model for the whole world."
The change is made even more relevant by the crisis, since economists and policymakers alike fear the economic downturn will lead to a reversal in the progress made in recent years in reducing Latin America’s poverty.
While Colombia in general has received much attention for its dramatic improvement of security since 2002, when President Alvaro Uribe came to power and started his aggressive “Democratic Security” policies, Medellin also deserves its share of attention.
Once plagued by infamous drug traffickers like Pablo Escobar, Medellin is today an example for poverty- and crime-ridden cities elsewhere in Latin America and in the developing world.
The IDB delegates are expected to try out Medellin’s 13-year old metro which is cleaner than its counterparts in London and New York. They can also try the connecting MetroCable, which links the metro to the slum areas overlooking Medellin. The MetroCable is also clean – and safe – and gives a perfect bird’s eye overview of the change that has taken place in the Colombian city.
The MetroCable has provided the citizens of poor areas overlooking Medellin with a faster and less expensive alternative...
Keywords: Explora, Fajardo, Holcim, Moreno, Poma, Uribe