At least 18 people are seeking to become the next mayor of Cúcuta. The list only includes three women and, for the most part, it is made up of ex-councillors, ex-deputies, and aspirants who intend to beat the pulse of the machinery.
However, although the Yáñez phenomenon was the revelation in 2019 and his commitment to respecting the public treasury has permeated the people of Cucuta, those who today want to replace him make constant complaints and criticisms of what they consider mismanagement of key issues in the city. .
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Experts warn that The next president must deal with the serious wave of homicides that is shaking the city, cutting off the tentacles of the more than 20 illegal armed groups that operate in the metropolitan area and reducing the perception of insecurity.
“Issues associated with employment and informality are worrisome, but violent acts generate a climate of anxiety that affects the perception of citizens; above all due to the ineffectiveness of the institutional framework to deal with this”, explains Mario de Jesús Zambrano, coordinator of Cúcuta Cómo Vamos.
Attracting more foreign investment, generating better conditions for the migrant population, new infrastructure works and recovering public space in the city center are some of the demands of citizens.
“There is a perception that there was no execution in the current mayor’s office, this added to the insecurity and instability of the cabinet, they become Yáñez’s moles. All of this will be used by those who aspire to the position today to position a new image”, affirms the teacher and researcher, Edgar Allan Niño.
Who are the applicants?
The extensive list of applicants will allow voters to choose between a leader who puts the accelerator to great works and has a vision of the future, or return to a president sheltered by machinery or promoted by former mayor Ramiro Suárez Corzo, convicted of murder and for having links with paramilitary groups.
Sergio Andres Maldonado, who was in charge of the Ministry of Social Development until 2022, would be the only candidate who would already have the endorsement of the Alianza Verde party. He is a professional in Government and International Relations.
Maldonado seeks to recover the confidence of the people of Cucuta in the public administration, address the legalization of informal settlements and attract more investment to reduce unemployment and informality figures.
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Sergio is the son of businessman Jorge Maldonado, who along with former presidential candidates Rodolfo Hernández and Sergio Fajardo accompanied the candidacy of Jairo Yáñez in 2019.
“Today there are more opportunities for independent candidates, partly because of the precedent left by Yáñez and because at the moment there is no clear candidate that unites the masses, on the contrary, the rattle is wide,” explains the academic Niño.
Juan Antonio Nieto landed on the political scene, who returned to the city with the intention of governing. Nieto has extensive experience in the public sector, he was director of the Agustín Codazzi Geographic Institute, former mayor of Tibú, secretary of the Environment and former mayor (e) of Bogotá.
He was born in Cúcuta and is a lawyer from the Universidad Libre, he has at least three postgraduate degrees in universities in Argentina. He would be in talks with the New Liberalism to obtain the endorsement.
Those who go for signatures
Since the end of last year, some applicants got up early to register their citizen movements with which they intend to advance in the collection of signatures to enter the electoral board that will be disputed by the Municipal Palace.
That was the case of the lawyer and Christian pastor Alfredo Rafael Saade Vergel, who in March 2022 was part of the consultation of the Historical Pacho jtogether with Gustavo Petro to define the presidential candidate. Since then his name has gained recognition in Cúcuta.
He was born in Valledupar, but his family history links him to Norte de Santander and the state of Táchira (Venezuela). He is a specialist in Management and Government, and in the past he was close to Cambio Radical. He was a candidate for mayor of Valledupar and directed the metropolitan area of the capital of Cesar, and the Association of Metropolitan Areas of Colombia (Asoareas).
Although Saade has already begun to collect signatures through his ‘Get Up Cúcuta’ movement, he would seek to be the anointed of the Historical Pact.
The union leader José Luis Mora did the same, who was already a candidate for mayor in 2019 as a candidate for the Democratic Center, but ended up joining the campaign of former mayor Donamaris Ramírez.
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Mora is a political activist and director of Asobares in Norte de Santander, and his leadership was vital in the economic recovery of Cúcuta after the effects of the pandemic. ‘New Ideas’ is his movement.
On the other hand, a little-known name entered the political race through the ‘Serve es mejor’ group; This is Eliezer Villamizar Sánchez, who is a native of El Tarra. He is an empirical composer and singer, and last year through a song he opposed the recall against the mayor Jairo Yáñez.
Another of the pre-candidates for signatures is the dentist Carlos Martín Rojas Carvajal, with ‘brave Cúcuta’. He is president of Veedores Unidos de Norte de Santander and vice president of the workers’ union (Sintranordessa).
Rojas Carvajal was head of internal control at the Erasmo Meoz University Hospital (Huem), a position he reached through a merit contest. However, he had to leave due to irregularities in the documents that proved his suitability for the position.
For Jairo Oviedo, coordinator of the Electoral Observation Mission in Norte de Santander, the registration of Significant Groups of Citizens (GSC), which seek to endorse candidates through the signature mechanism, is being seen with greater force in Cúcuta, following the trend of country.
“What one hopes is that those who initially develop a signature collection process take it to the end and end up registering their candidacy by signatures, and not by political parties,” says Oviedo.
The regional coordinator of the Moe, points out that this mechanism must be understood as a democratic option for those citizens who want to postulate their name, but do not identify with the traditional parties.
Another of those who aspire to the position is the former mayor César Omar Rojas Ayala, who was in the 2016-2019 period, registered his movement ‘Cúcuta does have what’ with the intention of seducing his electorate and returning to office.
Rojas Ayala, who he was part of the cabinet of former mayor Ramiro Suárez Corzo in 2004would have received the support of the condemned politician in the campaign that he won in 2015 with 103 thousand votes.
Today the relationship between the two ex-presidents would not go through its best moment and Rojas Ayala would be seeking the support of other leaders and congressmen in the region.
In June 2022, councilor José Leonardo Jácome resigned from his seat and from the Conservative party. His goal is to become mayor with the ‘Cúcuta Avanza’ movement, but Jácome would have the support of Cúcuta’s main political bishops, including the blessing of ex-governor William Villamizar and the support of those close to Ramiro Suárez.
Jácome is a native of Convención, Norte de Santander, graduated as a civil engineer from the Francisco de Paula Santander University. His degree thesis was reported to the Prosecutor’s Office in 2016 for alleged plagiarism.
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Juan Camilo Pérez, municipal youth councilor, warns that to date none of the applicants has heard the clamor of the youth and emphasized that young people make up a quarter of the population of Cucuteña.
“There has not been an agenda that brings together proposals aimed at providing better education, employability or cultural and sports initiatives. We question the ways in which these campaigns are being developed, the way of doing politics must change,” said Pérez.
The youth leader warned that the next president should prioritize the creation of the Youth Secretary and give continuity to some current processes that are on the right track. “Cúcuta is a city that must be thought in the long term”, he affirms.
in search of endorsement
The current councilor Yanet Carime Rodríguez would so far be the only woman who would have the real intention of making the leap. The lawyer and specialist in Administrative Law, was also a community leader in Cúcuta.
She is close to Senator Alejandro Carlos Chacón and would be waiting for the endorsement of the Liberal Party.
For his part, he Deputy Emerson Meneses, would also be waiting for the approval of his bench to become the candidate of the Conservative Party. Meneses was a councilor for Cúcuta and worked in the departmental Comptroller’s Office. In 2018 he aspired to the House of Representatives, but did not reach a seat.
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The Attorney General’s Office is investigating him for possible anomalies in the signing of a contract when he was working as head of the Mayor’s Legal Office.
Former deputy Juan Bocanegra, who came to the Assembly of Norte de Santander for the Partido de la U, would receive a push from Juan Fernando Cristo to enter the electoral contest through the nascent En Marcha party.
The lawyer Carlos Jaimes, who was elected councilor of Los Patios in 2004 and in 2012 in Cúcuta; awaits the endorsement of the Dignity and Commitment party. He is currently a teacher at Esap and warns that as president he will put the magnifying glass on public services that have been handed over to private concessions.
Although they have not confirmed that they are firm pre-candidates, the names of Jorge Acevedo, former councilor; Milla Romero, former senator, María Camila Villamizar, former government secretary of Medellín; Blanca Cruz González, former candidate for mayor; and ex-congressman Jaime Buenahora Febres, would also be interested in participating in the October elections.
For the time