January 1st, 2020, was a historic day for Colombia and its capital city. For the first time in 481 years of history, a woman, Claudia López, a fighter against corruption and equality, took office as mayor.
But in addition to being the first woman in the second most important public office in the country, she is also part of the LGBTQ+ community. As a highly conservative country, this is a big win for Bogotá women and human rights.
Politics was not always in her plans. But apparently, it was in her cards. So, how did a girl who dreamed of being a doctor become the Mayor of Bogotá? Here is her story.
How Claudia López moved from medicine to politics
She was born and raised in Bogotá and grew up with her mother. Since she was a kid, she dreamed of becoming a doctor. When it was time, Claudia applied to the best school of medicine in the country – twice. But she didn’t get in. Her backup plan: Biology.
Who would have thought that during this time, López would play her first political role? Between 1989 and 1990, while she was taking her science classes, she joined a student movement called La Séptima Papeleta. This was vital for the National Constituent Assembly that led to the 1991 Constitution.
Her participation in the democratic process was essential in her decision to pursue a future in politics. With no second thoughts, Claudia left her studies in biology, got a student loan, and enrolled in the Government, Finance and International Relations program at Universidad Externado de Colombia.
But her academic life didn’t end there. Years later, she was awarded two scholarships. One for a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Columbia University. and the other for a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northwestern University.
Her political career
Right after graduation, she worked for the former mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa as the local Mayor of Santa Fe. A few years later, she also joined the team of another candidate for the office of mayor.
But her political career jumped to the next level when she returned from Chicago after completing her doctoral studies. She decided to run for a seat in the Senate. Here is a timeline of her political career.
2014: She ran for the Senate and won with more than 81 votes. Claudia became the most voted candidate among Colombian females and her party.
2018: The Alianza Verde Party named her its presidential candidate. However, she decided to support the Coalición Colombia candidate, Sergio Fajardo.
2018: Sergio Fajardo announced Claudia López as her vice-presidency formula. However, they lost the election.
2019: She decided to run for the office of mayor. The second most important public position in the country, after the president.
2019: She is elected Mayor of Bogotá with more than one million votes. This is the largest vote in the history of the city.
2020: She took office on January 1st.
Her first steps in journalism
Like many other politicians, López also made her way into journalism as a writer of opinion pieces. Here are some of the most controversial ones:
– Her most famous piece was an investigation published in Semana.com about the parapolitics scandal in 2005. The outcome: more than 50 politicians were convicted.
– In her column in El Tiempo, the biggest newspaper in the country, she accused former president Ernesto Samper of having a link to the Colombian mafia.
– In her column in El Tiempo, she criticized how this journal had covered the Agro Ingreso Seguro scandal. The paper printed the piece but added a note stating that López’s opinion was assumed as a letter of resignation, which they accepted immediately.
She was also a columnist for La Silla Vacía, a commentator for Hora 20, de Caracol Radio, and ediror for a book about the war on drugs and Colombian political class. No doubt she is one of many women in the country who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and make difficult decisions. As many would say, that strong character is part of Colombian beauty.
Aguilar, A. (January 1, 2020). La historia de Claudia López, alcaldesa de Bogotá 2020 – 2023. Conexión Capital. Retrieved from https://conexioncapital.co/la-historia-de-claudia-lopez-alcaldesa-de-bogota-2020-2023/
Bogotá. (August 1, 2020). Claudia Nayibe López Hernández: Alcaldesa Mayor de Bogotá. Retrieved from https://bogota.gov.co/mi-ciudad/administracion-distrital/claudia-lopez-hernandez-alcaldesa-mayor-de-bogota
Claudia Alcaldesa. (n.d.). Mi historia. Retrieved from https://claudia-lopez.com/mi-historia/
La Silla Vacía. (July 23, 2021). Claudia López. Retrieved from https://www.lasillavacia.com/quien-es-quien/claudia-lopez