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Colombia’s Coffee Crusader: Governor Sergio Fajardo

From the July 2014 issue.

Colombian politician Sergio Fajardo has set his sights on the specialty coffee industry in his quest to lead social transformation in Antioquia.

In 1991, the city of Medellin was making headlines around the world – and they certainly weren’t the good kind.

At the centre of Colombia’s cocaine wars, the Antioquian capital was one of the deadliest cities on the planet, with its homicide rate peaking at 381 per 100,000. To put that figure into perspective, the United States was also experiencing its highest homicide rate in recent history that year – at 9.8 per 100,000.

Fast-forward 13 years, and Medellin is making headlines of a different nature. In 2013, the city was named the world capital of innovation by The Wall Street Journal and the Urban Life Institute.

The city’s murder rate has fallen a remarkable 80 per cent, as education and other social programs have targeted the around 2.2 million underprivileged residents. The city’s poorest neighbourhoods are filled with cutting-edge architectural public spaces and libraries, with designs befitting the wealthiest quarters. 

Sergio Fajardo has played a central role in this transformation. As mayor of Medellin from 2004 to 2007, and Governor of Antioquia from 2012 to today, Fajardo is considered a superstar of Colombian politics.

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