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There is a lot of good housing in Bogotá. Vast areas in the north and west of the city provide good accommodation for the extensive middle class, and much of the working class lives in well-consolidated self-help housing. Judged by the standards of most third world cities, and even those of other Colombian cities, most families have decent shelter. Equally encouraging is that the general standard of Bogotá's housing improved between 1951 and 1985 (table 11.7). At the same time, the city has a serious housing problem and far too many families live in bad accommodation. In 1985, 13 per cent of Bogotá's homes were overcrowded and 4 per cent of families lived in miserable housing conditions. Table 11.7 shows that conditions for many households deteriorated between 1985 and 1993. Critically, the service agencies seem to have lost their earlier ability to supply the expanding city.

Figure 11.2 Bogotá: Homes with miserable living conditions, 1985

Table 11.7 Bogotá: Housing indicators, 1951-1993 (percentages)

Service 1951 1964 1973 1985 1993
Water 85.8 89.5 91.8 95.9 88.3
Electricity 81.9 88.1 95.3 98.4 90.0
Drainage 80.0 87.6 91.7 95.6 86.3
All three services n.a. n.a. 87.1 93.5 n.a.
Without any service n.a. 2.7 2.4 0.7 1.0
Ownership 42.7 46.2 41.9 57.1 n.a.
Population living 4 persons to a room 7.6 18.5 23.0 14.9 n.a.
Homes built of flimsy materials 9.5 7.6 7.0 3.2 3.2

Sources: Jaramillo, 1990, El Tiempo, 3 August 1994.

A high proportion of Bogotá's population lives in self-help housing. This does not constitute a problem in itself because such housing often produces perfectly satisfactory accommodation. However, in Bogotá too much self-help housing is built on land which lacks services and where it is difficult to provide infrastructure cheaply. A lot of this housing lies below the level of the River Bogotá or on hillsides where it is expensive to provide water. Many of the difficulties are caused by the way that land is urbanized: most low-income settlements are developed through illegal processes.9 Between 1935 and 1985, 31 per cent of all housing was built on land that was developed illegally. Admittedly, the proportion of homes built in such areas appears to be declining through time: 55 per cent of all homes were built in illegal subdivisions in the 1940s compared to "only" 29 per cent between 1973 and 1985 (Molina et al., 1993: 53). Nevertheless, despite regular government efforts to tackle the problem of "pirate" urbanization, it refuses to disappear.10 Between 1987 and 1991, 127 hectares a year were developed in this manner, 42 per cent of the city's total new housing land (ibid.).

A further problem for housing in Bogotá is that the cost of land appears to be rising over time. FEDELONJAS (1988) claim that real land prices increased roughly six-fold between 1959 and 1988, and Villamizar (1982) calculates that they increased annually by 4 per cent per annum between 1955 and 1978. Prices in pirate settlements have risen as quickly as those in legal developments; according to Molina et al. (1993: 124), prices of plots have risen by annual rates of between 9 and 20 per cent in five peripheral districts of the city (Suba, Kennedy, Usme, San Cristóbal, and Usaquén). Although there are considerable doubts about the reliability of such data (see chapter 4), the real cost of land does seem to be rising over time. The rising price of land is cutting the size of the average plot. Between 1968 and 1973, the typical self-help plot was almost 200 square metres in area; between 1983 and 1985 the average had fallen to only 78 square metres (Molina, 1990: 305)11 Too much self-help housing is now being built on tiny parcels of land. Many new developments in the south of the city are selling lots as small as 36 square metres. Unlike the better-off, who can compensate for higher land prices by building up, the poor "substitute land by crowding" (Mohan, 1994: 70).

Irrespective of the level of income, the size of the average new home in Bogotá is falling. In 1974, the average new home contained 191 square metres of floor space; by 1985 the mean had declined to 70 square metres. Homes for the rich declined from 245 square metres in 1974 to 112 square metres in 1985 (Molina et al., 1993: table 2.7). Of course, the tendency for more families to live in high-rise apartments explains part of this change, but the principal cause is higher prices.

Rising house prices are making it difficult for young middle-class families to buy their first home. The cost of one square metre of housing space rose 41 per cent faster than incomes between November 1981 and September 1990 (Sorer, 1991). The construction boom of 1992-95 was also associated with a major rise in prices. At the very least, many young families are having to buy worse accommodation than in the past.

Public services

By the standards of most Latin American cities, the provision of public services in Bogotá is quite good. During the 1960s and 1970s, the authorities did an excellent fob in providing the city with electricity, water, and telephones. The public transport system was never good, but Bogotá always had a relatively well-developed road network. The services and infrastructure required by commerce and industry were supplied through major investment projects, many financed by large loans from the multinational development banks.

Unfortunately, all is not well with the service agencies (see below) and fewer homes are being supplied with electricity, water, and drainage. Between 1985 and 1993, census data reveal that the proportion of homes with electricity fell from 98 per cent to 90 per cent and those with water from 96 per cent to 88 per cent.


Bogotá is supplied by a decentralized local government agency. For years, the company was very successful in expanding capacity: between 1960 and 1980, electricity generation increased annually by 8.3 per cent (Otero and Avella, 1995). Unfortunately, demand was increasing even more quickly, and rationing was forced on the city in 1984 and again in 1992. On both occasions the situation was made worse by dry climatic conditions; a major problem since Colombia is almost entirely dependent on hydro-electric power. In 1992, indeed, the rationing was nationwide. The supply shortages were aggravated by the failure to complete major dam projects on time; Chingaza in the early 1980s, and Guavio in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The electricity company currently faces a severe financial crisis and has an enormous debt. In 1990, it owed US$1,281 million abroad and US$228 million at home. Most of its financial problems are linked to the development of the Guavio generating complex. Begun in 1981, the first stage of the project should have been completed in 1987, but the scheme was not inaugurated until 1992, with the last of the five generating units not operating until June 199312 The project was also plagued by vast cost overruns; it was estimated that costs in 1991 were 53 per cent higher than forecast (Otero and Avella, 1995: 85). The project has been managed very poorly, some would even say corruptly. The financial difficulties of the company were aggravated by devaluation in the middle 1980s, which greatly increased its foreign interest repayments, and by electricity rationing in 1992, which cut its revenues substantially. The loss of one-quarter of the electricity supplied to the city has not helped the financial situation (Otero and Avella, 1995).

The company's principal response to its financial crisis has been to raise prices. Residential tariffs rose 80 per cent between 1980 and 1992 and charges to commercial users by 150 per cent. The Chamber of Commerce complains that charges to industry are higher than those in any other city in the country and are probably higher than those anywhere in the Andean Pact (Fernández, 1994: 45). Prices will continue to rise over the next few years as the company seeks to improve its financial situation. Fortunately, the worst of the company's problems are probably behind it.

The interesting question is how the company got itself into such a mess. In the 1970s, it was one of Bogotá's most efficient state agencies and under close scrutiny from the World Bank. Some blame the politicization of the board of directors after 1970, something that has been modified by the Reform Statute of 1993. Others blame loose supervision over the Guavio project. Whatever the cause, the electricity company changed from being one of Bogotá's strengths to being its Achilles' heel.

Water and sanitation

Water and sanitation are provided by a decentralized agency of the city government. For many years the company managed to expand capacity; between 1971 and 1991, it supplied three million additional people (Yepes, 1993: 76). While the agency's ability to provide sewerage was less impressive, and its failure to treat waste was lamentable (see below), its general performance was not unimpressive (Gilbert and Ward, 1985). During the 1980s, however, service provision failed to keep up with the growth of the city. By the late 1980s, although sufficient water was available, the company lacked the means to distribute it (Díaz Arbeláez, 1988: 269). The company was also facing a worsening financial situation. It failed to charge most customers the full economic cost of the service, a situation aggravated by the loss of a great deal of water. In 1991, the company could not account for 44 per cent of its water (Yepes, 1993: 78).


Telephones in the city are also operated by a decentralized agency of the Bogotá government. During the 1980s, the number of lines rose annually by 8 per cent (CCB, 1991: 180), and in 1990 there were more than one million subscribers. The major difficulties facing the company are the lack of lines in the poorer areas of the city, particularly in Bosa, Cindad Bolívar, San Cristóbal, and Usme, and a shortage of public telephones. It is also claimed that the company is run rather inefficiently; it has too large a staff and has been improving their working conditions at the expense of the company (Ponchón and Associates, 1992: 276).


Health care in Bogotá is provided by the private sector, the social security system, and public hospitals and clinics. In theory, the first deals with the better-off, the second with formal-sector workers, and the third with those not covered by the first two systems. Until 1995, the social security system provided only limited cover for workers' families and its coverage was therefore very patchy. In 1986, 72 per cent of salaried workers were eligible for care but only 33 per cent of non-salaried workers, 44 per cent of the economically inactive, and 47 per cent of children under five (Yepes and Bosoni, 1993: 62). The pattern of use in the different health sectors cannot easily be generalized, because it varies greatly according to the kind of treatment required. Consultations with private doctors are common among all income groups, but few hospital patients are treated privately: in 1986, 65 per cent of cases were treated in public hospitals, 16 per cent in social security clinics, and 18 per cent in private hospitals (Yepes and Bosoni, 1993: 63).

At its best, private health care is excellent; at its worst, it is both expensive and of poor quality. Even more questions have to be asked about the effectiveness of the official health systems. First, although the population of Bogotá is increasing rapidly, the number of hospital beds is falling. In 1970, the city had 9,378 beds, but by 1990 the total had fallen to 8,425. There is a grave shortage of emergency beds: in 1986, there were 17.5 emergency beds per 100,000 people in the private and social security sectors but only 4.3 beds per 100,000 in the public system.

Second, the quality of treatment leaves a great deal to be desired. One recent account of the health system (Caro, 1990: 93) began with the following comment:

For the user of the state's health services, speaking of medical attention is immediately associated with long queues (due both to the number of patients and non-attendance by the doctor); impolite or inconsiderate treatment; the need to pay for critical elements of treatment; the poor location of the healthcare facilities; hospital hours that do not meet the needs of the patients; and so on.

Third, the social security and government systems are badly managed. Many beds are underutilized while some specialized hospitals deal with many cases that ought to be treated in lower-grade units. Such inefficiency is a result of inadequate budgets and over centralization; in turn, both are an outcome of too much political interference in the management of the sector.

It is a sad fact that although infant mortality and general death rates have fallen dramatically in Bogotá, the public health system has contributed little to the improvement. Better health is a consequence of rising living standards; the public health system continues to be a disgrace.


Most primary school education is provided by the public sector (62 per cent of students in 1988), although most students at the secondary and tertiary levels study in private institutions (60 per cent and 79 per cent of students respectively) (Rodríguez, 1990: 236-8). At all levels of education, the poorer the family the more likely the children are to depend on the public sector. Unfortunately, even if education standards in the public sector are better in Bogotá than in the rest of Colombia, the quality is still rather low. Large numbers of students drop out and many others are forced to repeat years. Student-staff ratios are also rather high; in 1988, there were 34 students per teacher in public primary schools and 24 in secondary schools.

Despite these problems, levels of education in Bogotá have improved over time. Literacy rose from 85 per cent in 1971 to 96 per cent in 1993, and primary and secondary school recruitment increased from 74 per cent to 83 per cent over the same period (Rinaudo et al., 1994: 28).

Public transport

Bogotá's transport system is now run wholly by the private sector. The national railway company operates inter-city services but runs no commuter trains. Although numerous plans have been developed to construct some kind of metro (see below), nothing has so far been built. As a result, Bogotá's population is wholly dependent on road transport.

For many years a public bus company operated in a small-scale and very inefficient way. The government compensated for the failures of its own company by subsidizing private bus services. However, as the cost of the subsidy rose, cuts were required. Today, subsidies are limited and bus fares are increasing in real terms. A further problem is that many companies have chosen to operate smaller buses, which has contributed to the level of traffic congestion (Acevedo, 1990). Congestion is aggravated by the fact that most buses follow similar routes to the city centre. Traffic conditions are hardly helped by the way that both buses and passengers ignore the bus stops. Buses swerve dangerously across the traffic lanes when they spot a potential passenger.

What many Bogotános want is a metro system (see below). The problem here is simple; neither the national nor the city government wants to pay for it. Clearly, any metro system will not be finished for many years.

The city's principal problems

In addition to the long-standing challenges facing the city in terms of employment, housing, health, education, public transport, and economic growth, there are four current issues which are exciting considerable discussion in Bogotá: the high rate of crime, the deteriorating urban environment, traffic congestion, and the quality of the city's government.


Colombia has a reputation as a violent country and the country's major cities have long suffered from high crime rates. In 1993, there were 58 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants in Bogotá, placing it among the world's most violent cities.13 The rate is also increasing: in 1971 there were "only" 23 murders per 100,000 people.

It is uncertain whether the murder rate is increasing faster than crime generally, and there has long been a justified concern about the high incidence of burglary. Private security firms are benefiting greatly from the booming demand for their services: currently the city has three times more people working for private security firms than for the police (Londoño de la Cuesta, 1992: 22). Fear of crime has also affected lifestyles; many upper-middle-class families have forsaken their detached houses for the relative security of highrise flats and few housing estates are built without elaborate security devices.


The city dumps most of its waste directly into the River Bogotá and the amount of sewage has now overwhelmed the river. It is estimated that the inflow of sewage is roughly equal to the amount of water carried by the river at Cota (Coyuntura Social, 1990: 50). Human waste, industrial effluent, motor oil, and fertilizer all go straight into the river.

The level of pollution affects the health of communities living close to the river and its tributaries. Sanitary conditions close to the Tunjuelito river in the south of the city are particularly bad. Since the polluted water is also used for irrigation, all of Bogotá's people are at risk when they consume milk and vegetables produced near to the city.

Air pollution is also getting worse. Pollution levels are particularly high along the major bus routes, in the industrial zone and in the poor south (Coyuntura Social, 1990). In 1990, suspended air particles reached 567 microgrammes per cubic metre in the south, sulphur dioxide levels peaked at 95 particles per billion, and nitrogen oxide at 278 particles per billion. The air quality is certainly not helped by temperature inversions and by the amount of traffic.

Noise pollution is also reaching dangerous levels. Along the main roads in the central area, noise levels regularly exceed the 80 decibel maximum recommended by the health authorities (Londoño de la Cuesta, 1992: 28).

Traffic congestion

Congestion is becoming a really serious issue in the city. Along the two major bus routes into the centre, Avenida Caracas and Carrera Décima, average speeds are often as low as 15 kilometres per hour (Coyuntura Social, 1991: 40). The major cause of congestion is the huge expansion in private car ownership. Between 1977 and 1985, the number of road vehicles registered in Bogotá and ten nearby municipalities increased annually by 8 per cent (Acevedo, 1990: 92). In 1993, 460,000 vehicles were registered in Bogotá. But, if vehicles registered in the neighbouring muncipalities are included, the number of vehicles regularly using Bogotá's streets rose from 232,000 in 1977 to 825,000 in 1993.

For many, the only answer to the traffic problem is to build a metro. For years Bogotános have been demanding such a "solution" and, in 1989, Congress established the ground rules for metro construction (Acevedo, 1990: 106). The key issues are now its cost, the kind of system to use, and who will pay for it. It seems unlikely that

Bogotá will ever build an underground system because that would be far too expensive. The most probable answer is a mass-transit system that will use the existing rail tracks. This leaves the problem of who will pay for it. Congress has decreed that the national government should contribute no more than one-fifth of the investment cost, Bogotá covering the rest as well as the full cost of running the system. The mayor of Bogotá is currently involved in a public debate with the National Planning Department about the level of the city's contribution. Clearly, nothing will happen for many years; until then, journey times will continue to lengthen.

The quality of government

Bogotanos have long thought that their city was badly governed. By the end of the 1980s, when the local authority owed some US$2 billion dollars, they knew it was poorly managed.

The state of the public service agencies certainly leaves a great deal to be desired. First, their total debt currently makes up 90 per cent of that of the city (Castro, 1994: 38). Second, they are failing to keep up with the demand for their services: water, electricity, and sewerage coverage all declined during the 1990s. Third, they are being managed very badly: they have too many workers, there is too much corruption, and there is excessive political interference in the companies' day-to-day activities (Yepes, 1993; Díaz Arbeláez, 1988; Gilbert, 1990). Finally, most companies charge less than the cost of the service and, in the process of trying to help the poor, they often subsidize higher income groups.

The government of Bogotá's image is also not helped by the fact that one million people are living in poverty, traffic is almost at a standstill, and the public health system is in chaos. The public's view was echoed recently by the president of the local chamber of commerce:

It is an open secret that Bogotá has become the most difficult city in the country to manage. The lack of any community identity, the lack of any kind of systematic or integrated planning, the long-standing institutional limbo that has slowed its administrative development, and the increasingly suffocating financial constraints which prevent it from satisfying the needs of its inhabitants, have led everyone to think that Bogotá is an ungovernable city. (Férnandez de Soto, 1994)

Administration of the city

In an attempt to improve the quality of Bogotá's administration, a new statute was approved in 1993. Bogotá was made into a Capital District and relations between the mayor and the council were altered substantially. The decree also sought to improve the city's financial situation, to reduce the possibilities for fraud and corruption, to improve the management of its decentralized service agencies, and to increase the opportunities for public participation. How effective are the changes likely to be in improving management of the city?

The creation of a Capital District

Bogotá is geographically part of the surrounding Department of Cundinamarca. For years the city was a municipality within the department. The city always wanted independence; the department long feared for its financial health if its major source of income were removed. This conflict of interest resulted in the administrative status of the city changing several times during the century (Vidal-Perdomo, 1994). In 1905 Bogotá was elevated to a Capital District, but in 1909 it was returned to the department. The 1945 Constitution stipulated that Bogotá could withdraw from Cundinamarca, and in 1954 Bogotá became a Special District. In 1991, the national constitution again established Bogotá as a Capital District.

In becoming a Capital District, Bogotá has achieved three new rights. First, it has become a separate electoral area, sending its own representatives to the national Congress. Second, it has obtained administrative autonomy from the Department of Cundinamarca. Finally, it has obtained more control over its own budget. Seemingly, Bogotá could have won these additional rights while remaining a Special District; according to Vidal-Perdomo (1994: 54) not a great deal has changed.

The mayor and the council

Bogotá's mayor used to be appointed by the national president and the first election for mayor did not take place until March 1988. The first three incumbents were members of one of the country's two major parties but the current mayor, Antanas Mockus, was elected largely because he represented no party at all.14

The relationship between the mayor and the council has always been different from that in most other Latin American cities (see chapter 3). The mayor has never been an appointee of the council nor a member of it. Today, he is elected independently (Vidal-Perdomo, 1994: 56). One result of the mayor's independence is that relations between the mayor and the council have always been difficult. Their relationship has not been eased by the overlapping responsibilities of the two. The 1993 reforms tried to remedy that situation. They made the council responsible for legislation and for overseeing the actions of the executive and made the mayor responsible for administering the city. In practice, the change seems to have given more powers to the mayor and less to the council.

So far, the new division of responsibilities does not seem to have helped reduce conflict. Relations between Mayor Mockus and the council have been troublesome. The problems may reflect the independent political status of the mayor. If not, they are an in-built feature of the new arrangements.

Improving the city's finances

During the 1980s, Bogotá's spending soared but its tax revenues did not (Pachón and Associates, 1992: 274). The government relied on credit to balance the books and took on new loans to soften its debt payments. Even though their incomes rose, Bogotános were paying the same amount in taxes in 1993 as they had in 1961 (Castro, 1994; Fernández de Soto, 1994). Taxes per capita were well below those in Medellín (Montenegro, 1992) and, in 1992, taxes amounted to only 2.4 per cent of the city's gross regional product (Orozco and Pardo, 1992: 315).

The recent reforms aim to rectify this situation. They have created new sources of income, increasing the sums likely to be generated by the general valorization tax, improving the procedure for assessing property values and allowing the mayor to apply a levy on the price of gasoline. Although the statute did not provide the authorities with any additional taxes, it does allow tolls to be charged on new roads, thereby encouraging the construction of privately run freeways (Castro, 1994: 38).

What the statute fails to do is to increase the amount of money that the city receives from the national government. Although Bogotá generates a large share of the country's tax revenues, it receives a relatively small proportion of the money that the national government allocates to local government.15 As a result, although the financial health of Bogotá has improved, the future continues to look uncertain.

The public service agencies

The large public service agencies are all decentralized institutes of the Bogotá government. They have long had independent boards of directors. For many years a majority of directors were representatives of major financial institutions (Gilbert and Ward, 1985) but, gradually, more and more directors were political appointees. The latter have been blamed for many of the failings of the agencies and the 1993 reforms have changed the appointment process. Councillors can no longer act as directors, nor can they appoint their own representatives. Two-thirds of the members of the boards will be named by the mayor and the remaining one-third will be delegates of users, civic organizations, trades unions, or the community. The powers of the directors have also been reduced and full responsibility for negotiating contracts has been given to the chief executive. The agencies have also been turned into industrial and commercial companies which, it is hoped, will improve their accounting and management systems and will encourage them to collaborate more with the private sector (Cárdenas and Olaya, 1994).


An effort has also been made to reduce the opportunities for corruption (Castro, 1994). A public "observer" has been appointed to oversee the efficiency and honesty of government. In addition, the mayor and his appointees now have total responsibility for negotiating contracts. It is hoped that the transparency of the new arrangements will increase accountability.

The future

Undoubtedly, Bogotá faces a series of major challenges. It has to compete in an increasingly competitive international market, even if it is not well positioned to do so. It has to create up to one million jobs in the next decade (Fernández de Soto, 1994: 45). It has to resolve the serious problem of its traffic congestion. It has to improve the quality of its administration and put its service agencies back on track. It has to overcome the government's debt problem while also facing up to the possible costs of building a new metro system. It also has to tackle the rising crime wave.

In overcoming these challenges, Bogotá has a significant advantage. Unlike most of its Latin American neighbours, the Colombian economy experienced few problems during the 1980s and can look forward to rapid growth in the future. The discovery of vast new reserves of petroleum and minerals should at least maintain the current rate of economic growth. Bogotá will find it easier to improve living conditions if the economy continues to grow at around 5 per cent per annum.

Bogotá also has the advantage that it has not accumulated a "social debt"; few of its social problems actually got worse during the 1980s. During the last three decades, poverty declined and the quality of housing and service provision improved.

But there is no room for complacency. Crime, pollution, and traffic congestion are getting worse. And, in so far as the ordinary Bogotáno is living in better accommodation and owns more consumer durables than ever before, it has not been due to any improvement in the distribution of income or the quality of public administration. If family incomes have risen, it is because more people are working; salaries for most ordinary workers have hardly changed. If most households now have a television set, it is because more family members are employed. Whether this has improved the quality of life is debatable, although it would certainly be deemed to be progress by the poor of Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro. In this sense, Bogotá is very much a special case among the mega-cities of Latin America. In comparison with the region's other metropolitan areas, its future is generally very promising.


1. Bogotá was renamed Santa Fe de Bogotá in 1993, when the national government issued a decree laying down the political, administrative, and fiscal responsibilities of the new Capital District. I shall continue to refer to the city by its earlier name, the one still used by the majority of its people. 2. Colombia's economy grew annually at 4.7 per cent between 1981 and 1994. Its economy never actually declined in any year during that period.

3. This tendency has continued to this day. Of the 70,000 migrants who arrived in the city between September 1991 and August 1992, 65 per cent were women (Castañeda, 1993: 122). 4. Migration was increasing Bogotá's population annually by 2 per cent during the early 1970s; in the early 1990s, by 1.5 per cent (Castañeda, 1993: 123). This calculation was based on a 1992 population of 4.9 millions. If in fact it was 6.3 millions the rate was only 1.2 per cent.

5. This figure compares with $667 in the case of Santiago de Chile, $723 in São Paulo, and $813 in Mexico City (Pineda et al., 1993: 33).

6. Those who are out of work tend to be less well-qualified. Workers with a secondary education are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as university graduates. In terms of age, 20 29 year olds are three times as likely to be unemployed as 30-59 year olds. Women are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as men.

7. Rates for March each year. There have been major variations in the level of unemployment since 1980. The peak of 14.3 per cent was reached in 1986, the low of 5.8 per cent in 1981 (DANE, 1991).

8. The unsatisfied basic needs index was developed by the United Nations. It measures the quality of housing construction, the level of household services, the extent of overcrowding, and the numbers of young children not attending primary school. It is intended as a measure of structural poverty. Short-term poverty is measured in terms of the ability of families to buy a basket of essential goods.

9. Land is rarely invaded in Bogotá. Most is subdivided illegally by the owner. Full descriptions of this process in Bogotá are included in Doebele (1975), Vernez (1993), Cardona (1969), Carroll (1980), and Gilbert (1981).

10. The authorities have tried to prohibit "pirate" urbanization, have arrested the developers, have tried to launch official sites and services programmes, have legalized and serviced illegal developments, and have eased the planning requirements on such developments, all without success. For many years, the public sector also built homes for the poor (Gutiérrez Cuevas, 1989; Jaramillo, 1982 and 1990; Laun, 1976; Ortiz, 1995; Robledo, 1985). Between 1973 and 1985, the state built 29 per cent of all the homes constructed legally in the city, even if its annual output varied dramatically. For example, state housing accounted for 51 per cent of all construction in 1973 and 46 per cent in 1980, but only 18 per cent in 1974 and 15 per cent in 1983 (Molina et al., 1993: 58).

11. In the 1970s, lot sizes in new self-help settlements in Bogotá were already smaller than in Mexico City and in Valencia, Venezuela (Gilbert and Ward, 1985).

12. Located 120 kilometres by road to the east of the city, the project's first stage was planned to add 1,000 megawatts of capacity and the second stage a further 600 megawatts. Total effective capacity of the whole Bogotá generating system at the end of 1987 was 1,259 megawatts (Díaz Arbeláez, 1988: 278).

13. According to Camp (1994: 78) the most violent place among the 100 largest cities in the world was Cape Town, with 65 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The only consolation is that Bogotá's rate is well below the average for the country as a whole: 82 murders per 100,000 people (Rinaudo et al., 1994: 29).

14. The following mayors have been democratically elected: Andrés Pastrana (1988 89), from the Conservative Party; Juan Manuel Caicedo Ferrer (1990-91), representing the Liberal Party; Jaime Castro (1992-94), from the Liberal Party; and Antanas Mockus (1995-date), representing an independent alliance. The city has traditionally had a large Liberal majority: Andrés Pastrana won in March 1988 because the Liberal Party put up two candidates. Recently, local electorates in Colombia have frequently been returning "non-political" candidates to mayoral office; Antanas Mockus was one such candidate.

15. Fernández (1994: 43) claims that although Bogotá has 15 per cent of Colombia's people it receives only 9.3 per cent of the situado fiscal and 7.4 per cent of the municipal transfers.

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