Saturday, March 28, 2009

Medellin in the Worldwide Spotlight

This Friday the 50th assembly of the Inter American Development Bank (IDB, or BIC in Spanish) got kicked off in Medellin and the city is accommodating between 4,000 and 6,500 visitors. The city is literally bursting with bankers and economists in suits and ties, which is not an outfit you normally see much in a city where casual is king.

Medellin is very proud to be able to host this big-scale event: It demonstrates how confident the world has become in the safety of Medellin, which for a decade has tried hard to shake off it's nasty image of a past dominated by crime and violence. With an event at this scale, Medellin is getting a lot of worldwide visibility.

The LA Times in it's Thursday issue printed a detailed article about the development in Medellin. The article lists some of the recent accomplishments in Medellin, like the installation of a modern metro system, which is one of a kind for latin cities. The metro is supplemented by two air cable car systems, called Metro Cable, which are particularly revolutionary, since they go up the steep mountains at the edge of the city, where the poorest of the poorest live. Only with the Metro Cable in connection with the Metro do these people now have access to the employment centers of Medellin. This concept is now being looked at by other Latin-Amercian cities for possible imitation.

The article in the LA Times also talks about a relatively new project the Inter American Development Bank is actually directly involved in with a $580 Million loan: The cleaning up of the river which goes through the city. The very river which gets decorated so spectacularly during Christmas. If you take the Metro, which by the way always goes above ground in direction Bello you can see what the issue is: The river goes through some very poor areas and these neighborhoods contribute a great deal of pollution into the river. With the help of the loans given by the IDB this mess is now going to be cleaned up and the residents in the nearby Barrios will be educated on how to not pollute the river.

The renaissance of Medellin is so dramatic, that it's architect, the former mayor of Medellin, Sergio Fajardo is now considered a prime candidate for the Colombian presidential election next year.

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