is with great frustration I read the article that appears in the
current English issue and online version of the National Geographic
Magazine. Starting from the title, Medellín stories from
an urban war and going through the “characters” recreated, the
article is filled with old data (year 2003), imprecise references
and common places that say nothing about the actual situation
a long period of time, we have had to face accusations and all
kind of negative remarks regarding Medellín. We have had
to struggle with the label of the most violent city in the world,
the city of the cartels. It is true that we had to face the narco-business,
an unpredictable phenomena no one could have ever foreseen. But
we dealt with it and we still do, just like the rest of the country,
and like the consumer countries do.
times are gone and in the article of the March issue, it seems
as if it happened just a week ago, which damages all our efforts
and places Medellín again in the world scene as the most
dangerous place, which is not.
have never seen such a sensationalist ill-disposed article regarding
our city, and believe me, I have seen many. The pictures and the
picture notes, the inner-titles, the language, the description,
the stories, are malicious, and add to present our city as if
it was the worse place on earth: the most violent, the most corrupt,
and the poorest.
am sure there are murders all over the world, and I surely have
never seen before in your magazine a picture (which is not even
recent) showing to the world the homicides in New York or London
or Washington. Likewise, with the photographs of the people in
jail: surely you have, as we do, people in jail, but you never
picture them like this in your Magazine. And the same goes for
the kids sniffing glue: I have not seen yet a picture of the drug-addicts
in New York or San Francisco.
do not expect to hide our problems, but we do expect a professional
approach to our city. We expect a journalist who does not take
sides and who actually researches deeply to find what really is
going on, instead of being carried away by the cliché Medellín
bears. And most of all, we expect a journalistic coverage digs
the current situation instead of publishing an article that is
filled with old figures and non-accurate references and data.
cannot start to imagine how much damage an article like this can
cause to Medellín, particularly published in a Magazine
as serious and well known as the National Geographic Magazine.
It is hard for me to believe that you published it without even
double checking if anything has changed since the time the article
article like this harms thousands of people who work, dream, and
put all their effort to create new and better opportunities for
everyone. It harms a city that has to deal with a tough past and
a world wide reference that is not currently accurate.
the record, and as the article that appears in the online edition
states, the violence rates have been decreasing and now we have
the average of a Latin American city. Sadly, this article, more
positive although not completely accurate, does not appear in
the printed issue.
was the least violent year within two decades: we lowered our
homicides rates per 100.000 inhabitants to 57. We are every time
getting closer to cities as Washington (33,7), Detroit (48.9)
and Baltimore (42.7). This year, we had 60 homicides in January,
which means a reduction of 41.7% compared with 2004 (103 homicides
were registered) and 71.7% in comparison with 2003 (when the homicides
in February we had 60 homicides compared with 108 that occurred
in the same period during 2004 (-44.4%). This shows a constant
41% less homicides per month. And, added to that, we must say
that in Santo Domingo Savio, the neighborhood quoted as the most
violent in Medellín, the homicides have decreased more
than 80%, and actually there are several programs that are being
carried out with an emphasis in this area (comunas 1 and 2).
to name a few initiatives, we are working with the public schools
of the area in order to improve the quality of education through
an integrated approach that includes better teachers, infrastructure,
technology, nutrition and interaction with the city. In this project
we invested 78.820 million pesos in 2004 (US 34.269.565).
well, the first (of four) public library-park will be built in
Santo Domingo to allow the community a space for encounter, research
and joy. We are also creating new public spaces in the area (parks,
sports facilities, pedestrian bridges) and improving the existing
ones to promote the development of open, alive and peaceful, neighborhoods
and living environments. Just in the Library, we are investing
8.190 million pesos (US 3’560.385).
to this, we are working with the Bank of the Opportunities and
the Micro-credit Network in order to promote enterprise creation
amongst the less-favored people as a way to increase their life
quality. We grant them loans (with the lowest rate interest in
the market), advise (to create sustainable enterprises), training
(in marketing, administration, communications and other entrepreneurship
requirements), and continuous follow up. In 2004, in the Comunas
1 and 2, the Bank granted 1.033 million pesos in loans (US 449.130),
the Microcredit Network 109 million pesos (US 41.976), and we
began building the Centre for Entrepreneurship zone Development
with 350 million pesos investment (US 152.174).
2004, in other different areas, such as health, the investment
was 24.707 million pesos (1.0742.593); in different programs regarding
vulnerable population it was 6.110 million pesos (US 2.656.726)
and in the Integral Urban Project Metrocable, we will invest (up
to 20007) 30.000 million pesos (US 13.043.478) in initiatives
regarding citizenship participation, social proposals, school
restaurants, parks and streets, new sport facilities and so on.
want the world to know Medellín not only because of our
past, but also for the challenges we are facing, for what we have
achieved and for the great opportunities the city offers today.
urge you and your team, particularly Eliza Griswold, to visit
Medellín, to witness what really is going on in our neighborhoods
and streets, to acknowledge how we are working with and for the
people and creating better living conditions for all, to learn
how it is perfectly safe to be in any street of Medellín,
how the police has presence in every single neighborhood, how
the community trusts them, and how our municipal investment is
directed towards the less favored people (52% of the budget is
being invested in social welfare).
deserve the opportunity to show the world what Medellín
really stands for.
Geographic Reports: Colombia in top six
destinations for 2008
CARTAGENA and MEDELLIN
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Things like these were unthinkable ten
years ago. Tourist guides used to put
aside Colombia in the Latin America
destinations. It was too risky. But now,
National Geographic in its National
Adventure, features Colombia as one of
its six top destinations for 2008.
"Discover why these countries
garnered our highest praise and then
find out how to experience them for
yourself", said the page that points out
Colombia as "Mountain: Columbia" beside
the other top destinations like Albania,
Senegal, Norway, Mongolia and India.
Even National Adventure compares the
country with its neighbouring Venezuela:
"While Venezuela's Hugo Chávez has been
busy stealing headlines, his once crazy
Andean neighbor is quietly settling
down—and tourism is heating up."
What is underlined of Colombia to be an
ideal destination for one of the most
important world magazines is its
colonial cities, the whitewashed
mountain villages, the mist-laden coffee
country and the rapidly developing
The recommended cities are
, the ones
that have been at the center of the
tourism revival of the country in the
While Medellín is an Andean mountain
city with a population of about three
million inhabitants in its Metropolitan
Area, Cartagena de Indias is the queen
of the Caribbean Sea with stunning
beaches and historical colonial centers.
But those two cities are only two within
a list of many destinations that go from
the coffee fincas along mountainous
highways to natural ecology reserves of