In the past decade, Medellin has gone from being one of the most violent cities in the world to a smart tech hub and tourist destination.
Former mayor Sergio Fajardo’s ‘social urbanism’, a policy of governmental investment in infrastructure and improved services for the poor, including cable cars, urban escalators and the transformation of a rubbish dump into a garden, has been credited for this rebirth. While the strategy has been successful, thousands of families have been evicted from their homes and relocated to a sprawling complex of public housing for displaced residents which has little access to social services and is an hour’s ride from the city center.
Arguably the city is now much safer and is experiencing the lowest murder rate in its history. Yet systemic problems such as internal displacement, inequality, organised crime and poverty remain major problems in Colombia’s second city. It will take more than a few cablecars and educational programs to advance holistically in social inclusion and equality.