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Bogotá, Colombia: Good Policies, A Great Place to Live (In Spanish)    
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Today’s Enlightening Entertainment will be presented in Spanish, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacense (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Greetings, kind viewers. Today, we are pleased to present the inspiring transformation that Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, has had in recent years. Colombia is a country located in South America and internationally known for being one of the top biodiverse countries in the world with abundant plant and wildlife; and for having one of the most extensive freshwater resources on the planet!

Colombia’s development has been increasing rapidly through participation of diverse sectors of the community in the creating and implementing of various beneficial social policies. The case of Bogotá is particularly interesting because some of its development strategies have gone beyond borders. They have succeeded in demonstrating that policies aimed at environmental preservation and the improvement of people’s quality of life are urgently needed to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable progress.

Bogotá is literally at the core of Colombia. Today the capital has about 11 million people and is a cultural, economic and educational center of the region. But it has not always been so. Just within two decades, the city showed surprising development in its alternative transportation, its educational opportunities and its cultural offering.

Bogotá has been recognized for its policies many times. At the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2006, Bogotá was awarded with the Golden Lion prize in the category of Best City for its urban and architectural projects over the past 15 years. The Golden Lion prize is one of a number of awards that Bogotá has received in recent years.

Among the main ones are: Recognition in 2002 by the United Nations Development Program as an exemplar in urban management; The Cities for Peace Award by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the 2004 City with Heart Award from the United Nations in recognition of the promotion of volunteerism, emphasizing the policies of “Bogotá without Indifference” and “Bogotá without Hunger.”

Around the world, pictures have been seen of the 300 km of permanent bikeways and 120 km of weekend bikeways that have been created in Bogotá. This environmentally friendly alternative transport benefits thousands of people daily, along with the mass transit system, TransMilenio, which moves 39,000,000 passengers per month! These have transformed the pace and rhythm of city life.

At least 10 years ago, we didn’t have the mobility that Bogotá now has at this moment.

Along with citizens of Bogotá, Supreme Master Television spoke with Bogotá City Council Member Ms. Ana Lucia Sandoval to find out more.

We have been working on the task of giving Bogotá alternative forms of mobility. I think many have seen the benefits of bike paths in the city. On Sundays, holidays in Bogotá when the streets are closed, so that only the people move who want to walk, jog or bike or skate. It is a unique, exciting space that the city offers that of course all Bogotá citizens thoroughly enjoy.

This initiative, which has also been implemented in other cities in Colombia such as Cucuta and Pamplona, helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a healthy recreational option for everyone.

Also, in Bogotá and across the country, a series of programs in education has been started to encourage higher school attendance rates. Bogotá City Council Member Mr. Celio Nieves kindly explained some of the city’s accomplishments that have dramatically raised the quality of education.

Our boys and girls in educational institutions have a wellness policy that did not exist before. There, boys and girls receive health care. In terms of support and educational assistance, they are offered a grant to remain ensuring that there are no dropout children due to the economic situation of their families. In the past, many children could not go to school because they did not even have breakfast in the place where they live.

So, with a few economic studies, we have been making progress, many new schools with optimal on-site infrastructure, with laboratories, with environmentally protected areas, with libraries, with laboratories, with sports fields, with good teachers who are intensely devoted to the formation of those children who come from almost all, the low-income families.

Of 1.02 million children who are enrolled in our official institutions, approximately 700,000 are benefiting from these nutritional supplements. Over 50 new institutions, and more than 200 fully reinforced so that today they have become new institutions, and almost all have been improved so that children are in a much nicer space.

In addition to the dedicated government officials, many women and students, etc. are also seeking to protect what is everyone’s shared responsibility. In the south of Bogotá, near a river called Tunjuelito, whose waters were highly contaminated, a strong neighborhood and youth movement has sought to protect the river basin and decontaminate its waters.

Their work has inspired young people from other localities to join together to protect the city’s wetlands, native forests and ancestral heritage. Such initiatives of various citizens’ groups have encouraged the country's leaders to include environmental, cultural, and also animal welfare issues in their agendas.

The first thing we did was, when I came to the Council, as part of the Mayor’s development plan, to include the issue of animal protection, that is, to be part of the district’s agenda. We have made a bill, which I co-authored with another councilman, for mass adoption days for dogs and cats in the city.

Right now we are processing, in the second discussion, the public policy of animal protection in the district, which we consider extremely important. I found a powerful tool, and I discovered that there are thousands of Bogotá citizens who love the animal protection issue. Last year, there was a march throughout all of Bogotá, a massive march.

We believe that bullfighting, it would be a great opportunity to eliminate it from the culture of Bogotá. Also, animal circuses. All of these issues are topics that are an opportunity for progress for the citizens. What we are telling people is let’s progress not only on human issues, but in all areas, both in matters of animals as well as of a healthy environment.

Another issue to which many Bogotá residents have responded with active interest is “responsible consumption.”

Responsible consumption – we are trying to be a city that consumes goods and services responsibly for environmental protection. Responsible consumption emerged as result of another bill that we have, which I authored, where it created a comprehensive strategy for electrical and electronic waste. So people do not know what to do with the TV, with the iron, they throw it in the trash and then it goes to a landfill. So, in Bogotá, there is a bill that makes all such waste to be able to have a strategy to handle them properly.

The changes that have happened in Bogotá are recognized by locals and visitors alike. Parks, theaters, museums and a wide network of public libraries visibly reflect the transformation of the city, and most importantly, the lifestyle of those living in it.

I have lived here in Bogotá since I was born, so my family is from here, and I want to invite everyone to come to know this great city. It offers a great amount of cultural activities.

There is the Museum of Gold, the National Museum. We have our beautiful historic part which is the Candelaria. A very nice trip is to walk over there at night time; have a cup of coffee, ride the TransMilenio (bus). We have Monserrate, the Salt Mines just outside Bogotá, in a town called Zipaquirá.

For children, we also have other cultural activities like puppets and a theater in general in Chapinero, a place called the Golden Dragonfly. There are other attractions like the flea market, which is a very nice place to go on Sundays. Well, for the people who are health conscious and take care of the planet and animals, you can also find more than 40 vegetarian restaurants in different parts of the city.

We had people from Texas, United States, and Dublin, Ireland, and they say to us that they never expected to take home such a good image from Bogotá, and that they found out it has many parks, big and beautiful parks, and a well-taken-care-of city, people who are very loyal, people who are very kind. They love the places for fiestas (parties) in Bogotá, the Center, the Candelaria…

Many of the places most appreciated and recommended by the citizens have been built or remodeled within less than the past decade. The look and the types of services currently offered have become more inclusive and accessible.

We have the chance to see the European Film Festival. We also have the French Film Festival. We have the Festival of Ibero-American Theater which features many countries. And well, just now, we are at the International Book Fair.

The Colsubsidio Theater is a theater for musical theater especially, very important. The Fine Arts Theater, too, is another very lovely place for listening to music, also for art. The Symphony Orchestra of Bogotá for example in December gives free concerts at different locations.

Also, I am the author of a project that promotes artistic works in public spaces, and the Bogotá citizens may perceive it free and direct anywhere in the city. Bogotá is a city of democracy. It is a city of many young people, but also with a lot of experience, with many Christians and people who have sought refuge in God.

This concludes our report on just a few of the many policies that have led Bogotá to become a joyful city, an award-winning city, and a leading city in its efforts to constantly raise its own standards. We especially thank Council Members Ms. Ana Lucia Sandoval and Mr. Celio Nieves for their cooperation and inspiring updates about the city’s enlightened policies.

Bogotá is my city where I was born, where I grew up, a city of opportunities, of course, with great challenges, but we are confident that we will overcome them to become the city that we all dream of.

Through the conscientious, forward-thinking endeavors of both its leaders and citizens, may Bogotá continue to flourish in God’s grace.

Thank you, cherished viewers for your company today. Now, please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News. Wishing you and your family peace and love.
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