What did Rodolfo Hernandez do when he was mayor of Bucaramanga and how did it go

(CNN Spanish) – Bucaramanga, located in northern Colombia, was the scene in which the political career of Rodolfo Hernandez, now seeking to reach the home of Nariño, took off. The ‘engineer’, as he calls himself, became mayor in 2016 after winning by a margin of less than 5,000 votes with the candidate who followed him and launched an administration he now makes constant references to.

Bucaramanga, known as a “beautiful city”, is the capital of the province of Santander. Having made a fortune in construction, Hernandez signed up to run for mayor with an independent civic movement called “Lógica, Ética y Estética”.

And he managed to beat a former liberal mayor, with his rhetoric against “politicians”, by more than 77,000 votes (in a qualified world of nearly 500,000).

Now that Hernandez has contested the presidency with Gustavo Petro in the second round of Colombia’s elections, a review of mayor’s vicissitudes may give clues about his performance as manager.

Rodolfo Hernandez novels in Bucaramanga, his fighting horse

One of the achievements Rodolfo Hernandez can boast about is bringing the gap to zero. The municipal treasury deficit at the beginning of 2016, according to an administrative report, exceeded 236 billion pesos. His government allocated resources to clean up finances, and by the end of 2019, there was no shortfall.

In addition, as he stated in interviews and insisted on his networks, I left 100,000 million in savings For business that was in progress when he left the mayor’s office.

His austerity policy included spending cuts in contracting services and, most notably, in the publishing and advertising budget that was cut to nearly a tenth in 2019 compared to the 2015 figure.

An example of a cost reduction he advocates is the cost of moving children, which was reduced by about 3,000 pesos per person while he was running it.

The municipal health numbers have led Fitch Ratings to announce an improvement in Bucaramanga’s short- and long-term ratings in 2019.

Public contracts, not only in Colombia but throughout Latin America, are one of the largest channels of corruption in public administration. Faithful to his anti-corruption rhetoric – although it may contradict the corruption case with which he has been linked – Hernandez has shed light on recruitment processes during his tenure as mayor in Bucaramanga.

From 2015 to 2019, for example, the number of bidders in public tenders increased from an average of 1.4 to 40.2, according to their report.

His report also highlights the implementation of a strategy to make the recruitment of public officials transparent and to expand the evaluation system for municipal employees.

Why Rodolfo Hernandez called Vico Gutierrez 1:38

What works did he do?

Hernandez’s mayor’s office has done 503 works and left 42 more “going,” he said. In fact, these are the numbers that he has repeated on several occasions (although, on the other hand, he talks on his website about 300 jobs. According to the Colombiacheck portal, in the mayor’s office, their number is estimated at 500, but two out of five It cannot be considered high impact).

His personal information speaks of 92 sports venues, 36 schools, 29 parks, 8 health centers and 18 agora districts.

Three years after he left the mayor’s office, some of the more sought-after ones are of a cultural nature, for example the completion of the Santander Theater, which opened its doors in 2019, the rebuilding of the Gabriel Torbay Public Library, the strengthening of the Orientale Cultural Center and the Neumundo Convention Center, which has been It is now advertised on the networks as part of a campaign presidency.

Venezuelan Immigration Department

Hernandez says he will restore relations with Venezuela if elected president. His approach to the immigration crisis was surrounded by controversy and led to him being accused of xenophobia while he was mayor, for example when he stated that women from the neighboring country who arrived pregnant and gave birth to their children in Bucaramanga were “a machine for making[Chinese children]poor”.

In 2019, according to his report, just over 5,500 Venezuelans were treated in the health system compared to four registered in 2016 and there were about 2,800 citizens of the neighboring country in educational institutions.

20,000 “happy homes” never reached their recipients

False promises are also under the spotlight. The most famous of them is the 20,000 “Happy Homes” program which, according to messages delivered to part of the population during the campaign, included the construction of 20,000 homes for the city’s poorest families.

Hernandez left the mayor’s office without complying. He recently said in an interview with the Los Angeles newspaper: “Can’t everything be done? He wasn’t able to buy the land because when the mayor’s office was handed over to him, he found that the accounts weren’t what he expected. They didn’t tell me (…) that they stole.” Everything, they looted Bucaramanga.”

This was not the only unfulfilled proposal. In the field of health, for example, one of the goals was to build five centers, and according to their balance, only 11% were achieved.

In the field of mobility, what has been suggested has not been reached either.

Media disputes and problems related to the Attorney General’s office

Controversy also dominated the presidency of his municipality.

In November 2018, Opposition Council member John Claro was accused of not being allowed to speak and of having a “dictatorship”. He called him a “rascal” and accused him of being allied with the corrupt. In this exchange of words, Hernandez got up from the chair and hit him on the head and also threw a barrage of insults that ranged from nicknames to vulgarities.

It was “human motivating error,” he later apologized, when the attorney general’s office was suspended for three months and a second-tier judge forced him to pay a fine of about 95 million pesos (about $23,000 at present). exchange rate) which he requested to be paid in 190 installments at approximately $120 per month, local media reported.

His scandals earned him several disciplinary sanctions by the prosecutor’s office. According to reports, by 2019, Hernandez had opened 34 disciplinary investigations into the agency. CNN has contacted this entity requesting information about this, but has not received a response yet. That year, alleging political persecution and when the Public Prosecutor’s Office punished him for his improper participation in politics, he resigned as mayor of Bucaramanga in September 2019.

Petro and Hernandez under the magnifying glass of complaints and accusations 2:49

The long-running corruption complaint towards Casa de Nariño

The attorney general’s office charged Hernandez in 2021 with “unwarranted interest” in the notorious Vitalogic case, which took place when he was still mayor of Bucaramanga.

The indictment, for which he pleaded not guilty, points to alleged irregularities in a consulting contract on waste management techniques at the El Carrasco landfill. The contract value was 336 million Colombian pesos (a little over $85,000 at current exchange value).

Hernandez insists He never stole the peso“And in April of this year, at a hearing, he did not accept accusations such as doctrinal falsehood, contracting without complying with legal requirements, and improper interest in concluding contracts, according to the prosecutor’s office. The case is still ongoing.

Public opinion in Bucaramanga judged Rodolfo Hernandez

In Bucaramanga’s 2019 public perception survey, How Are We Going, Hernandez came in a favorable 62%. 52% of people said he has done well during his tenure, 47% of those surveyed said they trust his management, versus 28% who said they don’t.

Another indicator that may be essential to their support is related to the concept of corruption. By 2019, 39% of the population considered corruption to have decreased, nearly double the 20% who asserted that it had increased.

In Gallup’s June 2019 measurement, before his resignation, Hernandez had 64% approval and 28% disapproval.

Look: How was Gustavo Petro’s passing through the mayor’s office in Bogotá

With information from Melissa Velasquez

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