Mockus, the politician who fights violence with artistic flair, returns to battle for Colombian peace
Antanas Mockus cut a heart-shaped hole in a bullet-proof vest he wore when threatened by Colombian guerrillas for his work as Bogotá mayor.
The former mayor and presidential candidate said the attention his dramatic move attracted protected him more than the bullet-proof vest.
Now, despite the dangers facing left-wing candidates in the rough-and-tumble, often fatal, world of Colombian politics, Mockus announced he will return to politics to work toward bringing peace to the war-ravaged South American nation.
Mockus will run for a seat in the Congress in the 2014 Colombian elections where he said he hopes to help build post-conflict Colombia.
The unconventional politician finished second in a runoff against then defence minister Juan Manuel Santos in the 2010 presidential campaign. If elected, Mockus could be working with his former opponent as Colombia attempts to rid itself of the fierce internal conflict that has cursed the nation for a half century.
Mockus has long been known for his imaginative political tactics.
When asked to explain the heart-shaped hole in his bullet-proof vest, he explained: “I believe this kind of gesture, gave me indeed more protection.”
To combat the lack of respect and risks pedestrians faced on Bogotá streets, Mockus hired hundreds of mimes and clowns to chastise drivers and pedestrians alike who did not obey traffic laws. Mimes followed offenders and flashed signs which read: “Incorrecto”.
His reasoning behind this move was simple. In his estimation Bogotá´s citizens were more afraid of humiliation by mimes and clowns that they were of punishment or fines levied by armed police officers.
“It was a pacifist counterweight. With neither words nor weapons, the mimes were doubly unarmed. My goal was to show the importance of cultural regulations.”
His efforts at handgun control included a plan where firearms could be exchanged for food stamps. He enlisted priests, who made the exchanges. Few guns were exchanged, but the homicide rate fell significantly during his tenure.
Whether Mockus will be elected or not (and barring tragedy, he most probably will), Colombian politics will be richer and more entertaining.
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