Antanas Mockus

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Antanas Mockus

Born March 25, 1952(1952-03-25)
Nationality Colombian
Term 1993 - 2003

Antanas Mockus Šivickas (born 25 March 1952 in Bogotá), is a Colombian mathematician, philosopher, and politician. The son of Lithuanian immigrants, he left his post as principal 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 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.

[edit] Bogotá mayorship and presidential bid

Under Mockus's leadership, Bogotá saw improvements 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 people to pay a voluntary extra 10% in taxes, over 60,000 people did so. 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.

Famous initiatives included hiring 20 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. 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. His initiatives to reduce violence by engaging citizens in civil resistance against violence were as original as successful. He successfully combined showmanship, fiscal discipline and heavy reliance on punitive measures. Amassing political support mainly from Bogotá's middle and upper classes, he has been much less successful attracting voters in the national level. In the past Presidential elections in 2006 he won less than fifty thousand votes, less than 5 percent of the votes.

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. In the meanwhile, Enrique Peñalosa replaced him as mayor. Peñalosa worked in a similarly 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."

[edit] Recent Work

In 2003 Mockus stepped down as mayor, to be replaced by Luis Eduardo Garzón, and took a year's sabbatical, travelling and speaking around the world. He planned to return to teaching at CNU 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 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, IL, which is the biggest Lithuanian community outside the republic of Lithuania, and delivered a speech in his native Lithuanian.

On December 2, 2005, it was announced that his 2006 presidential campaign would be supported by the Indigenous Social Alliance Movement (ASI). [1] He polled fourth in the election, attracting 1.24% of the vote.

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 Bogota.

[edit] External links

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