Why have you been so concerned about the happiness of the inhabitants of Cota?
NESTOR ORLANDO GUITAR: The vast majority of rulers are more concerned with policies related to security, public services, mobility and infrastructure, but we do not focus directly on the person. When I arrived at the Mayor’s Office, I identified certain problems that were not being worked on, which is why we decided to focus our efforts on the vulnerable population: mothers who are heads of households, early childhood, young people, people with disabilities, the elderly, and members of the community. LGTBIQ+.
What were those problems that you identified?
Education is key in these programs…
N.O.G.: Yeah. One of the big bets was education, for which we deployed incentives such as subsidies, transportation or meals for students of all levels. The boys from the public institutions receive their complete uniforms, breakfast, snacks and lunch, they receive educational and audiovisual material, they receive accompaniment on psychosocial issues. For this, an interdisciplinary group of psychologists, sociologists, and social workers was formed who are working for all educational institutions, detecting possible outbreaks of aggression, intrafamily violence, abuse, mistreatment, both physical, psychological, or of any other nature.
Thinking that these boys go much further, we created the FOES, with which today we are providing scholarships for more than 25 percent of the students who leave public order educational institutions. Of 210 boys, we are granting scholarships to 57 so that they can study at the university whatever they want. The requirements are to have a good Icfes score, to have good grades and to stand out in sports and culture.
In addition, we have an agreement with 35 universities, where they will obtain discounts. In addition to that, we are giving them a support fee so they can go to university. They are being given a minimum every semester to help with their transportation, didactic material and photocopies.
Is the idea that these efforts become a public policy?
N.O.G.: That’s how it is. We have 17 public policies approved and we have been growing, modifying and adjusting the programs to improve the well-being of citizens. I feel identified with the problems of the community, for me it is important to help everyone, from the low-income person to the micro-entrepreneur who needs support to carry out their business.
How receptive has the community been?
N.O.G.: Fortunately we have managed to articulate these welfare policies with the municipal council. We have seen a lot of consistency and people have also received it very well. As in everything, there is opposition and debates, but given that they have generated a fruitful transformation in society, they have dissipated.
*Content prepared with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Cota.
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