“To Medellinizar”


To Medellinizar:

verb (used with object)

1. To make a city or to make a city appear as violent and dangerous as the city of Medellin in its heyday of crime and murders in the 1980s and 1990s.

2. To make a city or to make a city appear as efficient, progressive and smooth running as the city of Medellin, Colombia.


2013, created and made popular on social networking sites but used openly by the Commander of the Bogota Police force Luis Eduardo Martínez when describing and likening the violence in the northeast of the capital to that of Medellin’s communas. Subsequently corrected in an apology by aforementioned Police chief and used to laud Medellin as a city of the future.


A Botero sculpture in Medellin

A Botero sculpture in Medellin

Medellin is city worthy of much praise, indeed, the way that the population has been able to create a thriving industrial and touristic hub from the burnt shell of the ruined city of yesterday is nothing short of miraculous and represents the hardworking and dedicated nature of the people of Antioquia. And yes, the paisas can and must rise up in unity and anger at Commandante Luis Eduardo Martínez’ statements from January 11 2013 and they must point at how far their city socially and economically has progressed.

But, leave it at that.

Medellin is currently at its zenith and has every reason to enjoy this moment but important decisions need to be taken and acted upon to ensure that this city of eternal springtime can remain in the headlines for all the right reasons. There has to be more than the metrocable and the much eulogized escalator.

Anibal Gaviria's, the Mayor of Medellin's response to Bogota's police Chief's comment

Anibal Gaviria’s, the Mayor of Medellin’s response to Bogota’s police Chief’s comment

Speaking to a few inhabitants of Medellin over the high season it was interesting to view their pride in their city and their belief in what the future may hold. But, there is a niggling and underlying truth about which many are aware, and that is that the city is outgrowing its defined skin.

Deep in the Aburra Valley, Medellin has been sheltered in a geographically stubborn region, but its expansion both planned and forced is placing significant pressures and these must be addressed right away. Apparently there is an action plan to ensure that Medellin continues to grow along the length of the valley into the municipalities Sabaneta and beyond, but, while the plan may be effective on paper, how can you ensure this is going to happen.

With people continuing to flee the countryside due to continuing violence in Uraba, Cordoba, Choco and other parts of the department of Antioquia, how are you going to house them where it suits the city planners and urbanists? These people are going to go where they can find an edge of land, in many cases a teetering precipice, and set up their homes.

Medellin works now and it is fantastic that a Colombian city should be in the Final 3 for the Wall Street Journal’s Most Innovative City award and in such prestigious company as Tel Aviv and New York. Bogota can learn much from Medellin, but Bogota’s troubles are only just coming to the surface. For Medellin there’s still time.

Progressive and Inclusive buildings in Medellin

Progressive and Inclusive buildings in Medellin

Hopefully Medellin stays this way, and knowing the paisas and their spirit they will not be content to rest on their laurels and they will keep striving to maintain theirs as a forward thinking and progressive urban center. But there are issues that need addressing right away.

With any luck the verb “to Medellinizar” will remain as the second definition in the aforementioned blurb and will not slip back to the violence and terror found not only in the city’s communas and downtown as described in the first definition. Apologize and swallow those words Commandante Martinez.

About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
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3 Responses to “To Medellinizar”

  1. Don't you badmouth my beloved downtown or I will Medellinizar you 😉

  2. un colombiano mas says:

    That police officer was exaggerating.

    Bogota is as dangerous as Medellin so it doesn't need to be "medellinizado"

    Yes, the managers of Medellin are really efficient, and it is a really prosperous city but they can't deny delinquency goes rampant in there.

    So do Anibal Gaviria think they want to import medellin-style delinquency to their cities as well ?

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