Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga on inequality and violence

Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga, mayor of Medellín, Colombia, explains how inequality and a lack of opportunity and education has led to violence and unrest in Colombia. 


FEDERICO GUTIÉRREZ ZULUAGA: My parents always said, “Federico, we’re not rich. The inheritance we’re leaving you isn’t money. It’s your education. And with that you’ll have to make your way.” I understood that. But we have to grant the same opportunities to those who don’t have them.

[Inequality is logo. A graphic black equal sign with an orange slash through it. #InequalityIs. Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga, Mayor, Medellín, Colombia. A Colombian man wearing a black suit and dark blue tie.]

In my 41 years, I’ve never known a single day of peace. Not in my country. Not in my city.

[A 1990 Columbian newspaper headline reads “Another car bomb, five dead”.]

In 1991, Medellín was known as the most violent city in the world.

[Another old newspaper headline reads “Six murders in Medellín”, and “14 dead in three hours”.]

We had 381 murders for every 1,000 people. You find the same thing today in many North American countries and throughout the world: the problem of drug trafficking. But it has a significant cause, and that’s the problem of inequality. Inequality is a driver of social instability. The more inequality we have, the more violence we’ll get. That’s the explosive mix we got in Medellín, at the end of the 1980s. Today, things are very different. We have less than 20 homicides per 10,000 citizens. But to keep climbing we have to have good education that creates good jobs. It’s been proven that if you don’t provide quality education social inequality persists. Inequality is a danger to our communities. Inequality is what we must change. What we must overcome.

[Inequality Is Logo. Join the conversation. #InequalityIs.]

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