Daniel Quintero: The mayor of Medellín unleashes a crisis by comparing businessmen to cartels | International

The mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, in a portrait from June 2020.
The mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, in a portrait from June 2020.JOAQUIN SARMIENTO (AFP)

Once again, the media mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, has made a declaration of war against the businessmen of the second city of Colombia. His words have caused a scandal in which President Iván Duque came out to act. In an interview to the magazine WeekQuintero said that the Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (GEA) resembled the mafia cartels.

In a city that suffered years of violence by the Pablo Escobar cartel, these statements have generated bitter political reactions at the start of an intense electoral year, months before the March congressional elections and the May presidential elections. One of the GEA companies, Argos, has announced a criminal complaint for insult against the mayor. Quintero, in addition, is on the verge of a process of revocation of his mandate. This Monday, the Registrar’s Office endorsed the signatures delivered to request it by those who accuse him of mismanaging the city.

The origin of Quintero’s latest controversy were statements in which he also lashed out at former President Álvaro Uribe and former mayor and presidential candidate Sergio Fajardo. Despite being at odds, both are national figures with origins in Medellín. “What there were here were some cartels, some mafias, where the GEA, the Uribismo, the Fajardismo joined, and they all had an agreement to make a little step and someone independent arrived, put his finger on the wound and that has hurt them a lot” Quintero told the publication.

Although he did not mention it with his own name, President Iván Duque referred to the controversy. “The bullying of politicians to private initiative, entrepreneurs and companies is typical of the failed methods of XXI Century Socialism. No to corporate stigmatization, or expropriations, or class hatred that has ruined several countries in the region, ”the president tweeted this Monday. “The resentful socialists and their collaborators hide their corruption and their failures with slanderous discredit to private activity and defenders of democracy,” former President Uribe, Duque’s political mentor, reacted previously.

A crucial week

Medellín is experiencing moments of extreme turmoil. This week, the result of two takeover bids (OPA) launched by banker Jaime Gilinski to take control of the most important assets of Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (GEA), the food company Nutresa and the financial holding Grupo Sura will also be announced. .

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The offensive of Gilinski, the second most important businessman in Colombia after the banker Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, has also touched regional pride. The GEA has 14,000 shareholders, 40% with a stake below 2% and among the minority are pension funds. But, in addition, after the time of terrorism under Pablo Escobar, an alliance between the company, the State and the academy developed in the city, which is still being maintained.

That is why the mayor’s words have also hurt, pronounced precisely in the magazine that is owned by Gilinski. Argos, one of the aforementioned companies, has released a statement stating that Quintero’s statements in the middle of the takeover bid “may negatively affect the perception of national and international investors as they are false and misleading.” And announced legal action.

Meanwhile, artists, cultural managers and other figures in the city have also spoken in favor of the GEA. Several of them speak of the 125,000 direct jobs that these companies give and others of the destruction of social capital during the Quintero administration. “The lie hurts the city, the dignity of Medellin, ignores the horror story we suffered and from which we managed to overcome with the sum of efforts, capabilities, leadership, resources, kindness and solidarity,” said Proantioquia, an alliance public-private for the generation of employment in the city.

It is not the first time that Quintero has lined up against this group. He campaigned criticizing businessmen and has said that the Junta de Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) had interests that did not favor the citizens. And in August of last year it sued the builders of the Hidroituango dam, but without informing the board of directors of the EPM, which caused the resignation of all its indignant members because they considered that the mayor was skipping a historical tradition of corporate governance, the seal of one of the most emblematic companies in Colombia.

The mayor has not responded to criticism or to President Iván Duque’s message. At the end of Monday afternoon, he only referred to the revocation he could face and said that the Registrar’s Office did not allow his “graphologists to access the original signatures.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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