Insights from the first female mayor of Bogotá

The War on Drugs and Violence in Colombia

This evening Claudia López, the first woman elected mayor of Bogotá, and an expert on violence in Colombia, will reflect on the persistence of violence, its connection to the war on drugs, and the peace process. Juan Masullo, an expert on civilian resistance to armed groups and the influence of the war on drugs in Latin America, will contribute insights from academia. Abbey Steele will moderate the discussion.

Colombia’s historic peace agreement in 2016 was heralded as a crucial step towards ending violence. Yet, violence persists in several forms in different areas of the country. Though Bogotá was spared the brunt of civil war violence, public security is a persistent challenge. What are the primary threats to public security since the peace agreement, and what are the main responses by the government? Which strategies have worked, and where are they falling short?

About the speakers

Claudia López has 30 years dedicated to fostering democratic governance, sustainable development, and transparent public management, during which she has shaped political, economic, and social landscapes in Colombia. As Bogota’s first female Mayor, her tenure is marked by a strong commitment to social equity and justice, women’s rights, environmental sustainability, and anticorruption. Previously, as a Senator, Lopez was renowned for her tenacity and capacity for collective action, especially in leading impactful anticorruption campaigns. Before her political ascent, she excelled in academia as a researcher and holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University. She is currently an Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University.

Juan Masullo is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University and a member of the Amsterdam Conflict Research Network. His research employs a variety of methods to study political and criminal violence, especially in Latin America.  He is particularly interested in how individuals and communities living in violent settings make choices and how their experiences shape their political preferences, including preferences toward different policy strategies to deal with violence and crime. He has been exploring these issues in different countries affected by civil war and organized crime, including Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil.

Abbey Steele is associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam and an expert on the Colombian civil war and peace process, and civilian displacement. Her book, Democracy and Displacement in Colombia’s Civil War, traces the impact of democratic reforms on the forms of violence armed actors used in the Colombian civil war, especially forced displacement of civilians. On the peace process, she has collaborated with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to study public opinion as the agreement is implemented. She is the convenor of the Amsterdam Conflict Research Network (ACoRN), the co-PI of a new Research Priority Area at the UvA on Conflict & Society, and is on the board of the Amsterdam Center for Conflict Studies.

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