Interview with the mayor of Ibagué 2024, Johana Aranda Rivera

Interview with the mayor of Ibagué 2024, Johana Aranda Rivera
Interview with the mayor of Ibagué 2024, Johana Aranda Rivera

lto the mayor of Ibagué, Johana Aranda Rivera, has expressed feeling satisfied, but not satisfied, with the start of her administration. She maintains that the work does not stop, but she is grateful to be able to continue with the work carried out by the previous mayor, which today has allowed her to deliver several important works.

The president has been emphatic about the lack of resources that arrive from the National Government for the capital of Tolima, but she is optimistic thanks to the work of businessmen and citizens who have contributed to several of her projects.

This year will be special for Aranda Rivera, cultural and sporting events will be held in the city, for which, he assures, the city has the best Olympic village in the country.
Aranda, with deep faith and trust in God, for years was director of quality control at the Ibagué water company and on January 1, 2020, she took over as Secretary of Health, standing out. for his work in dealing with covid-19, a disease from which he was infected eight times.

Every Thursday he serves citizens in his office from 3 in the morning. A difficult task, but one that he maintains with the purpose of making the capital of Tolima grow hand in hand with all its inhabitants.

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How have these first months in office been?

Beginning to gain people’s trust is the most valuable of all, because in a city where there was distrust of the public, returning to work hand in hand with the business sector, with academia, with those who have nothing to do with the public and say: come on, let’s shake hands at a single table to move the city forward, that has been super important.

What has been achieved thanks to this trust?

When trust is gained, things like those in Latam happen which will now compete with flights to and from the city. Thanks to my city manager, the doors of large businessmen have been knocked on, for example, the solar farm that will be installed in Ibagué will be one of the largest in Latin America and will generate more than 800 jobs.

What the previous government leaves behind serves as a platform for very important projects, from the first 100 days the city already has a different dynamic because you already see machinery, operational personnel on the streets. 80 percent of our sewage is obsolete, there are 860 kilometers of sewage network that we are going to recover, that is why we start with alliances in the neighborhoods, with leaders and taxi drivers. We are prioritizing things by neighborhood.

Bogotá April 11, 2024. The mayor of Ibagué, Johana Ximena Aranda in an interview for El Tiempo.

Photo:César Melgarejo / El Tiempo

What projects from your government plan are already working?

We inaugurated the Casa Rosa in April and I am happy because it is a strategy that I had in mind many years ago. They are houses for women who have been violated. The first was inaugurated in commune 8, one of the areas with the highest number of cases of violence against women. Here the women will receive psychosocial attention and legal attention, because the violated woman They are afraid to go to the police station or go through the usual channels, so the Casa Rosa is a house where they can feel safe.

Workshops and plant plans will also be offered, which are seed capital that will be given to women so that they can start their ventures. The initial idea with these houses is that they are in the communes with the most indicators of gender violence, we want to start with about four.

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And in terms of employment, how are things going?

We have also achieved a great strategy called the Camel Fair, We set up a competitiveness table where all the businessmen are and we invite them so that they can find labor in the city. It was spectacular, there were 1,008 jobs. We were the city that decreased unemployment the most; We went from 19.3 percent to 14.6 in the first quarter of the year. And youth unemployment, we were at 23 percent and decreased 6.4 points.

Another strategy to listen to citizens is that every Thursday I get up at 3 in the morning and serve as many people as possible. We heard each other there. I dedicate that day to listening to people.

What have those meetings left behind?

It has helped me a lot in building our development plan. On the other hand, I have designed a strategy to keep the city clean, so that people take ownership of this and help identify those who litter, to clean and keep our city beautiful.

I also believe that music, art, connects a lot with a disruptive and efficient learning system. We are the musical capital and I want a cultured and noble Ibagué.

Bogotá April 11, 2024. The mayor of Ibagué, Johana Ximena Aranda in an interview for El Tiempo.

Photo:César Melgarejo / El Tiempo

What is the state of sports venues today?

Everything is up to date. The only thing missing is the Olympic pools, but today Ibagué has the best Olympic village in the country. I managed to bring the Pan American Skating that starts on June 3, there are 30 countries, we are going to have artistic, speed, inline skating; we achieved bring us a challenge with the best tennis players in September.

There is the Ibero-American motocross, this motocross track is excellent and I asked the president to let me host the 2026 national games, let’s see if he says yes.

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What do you think of the regional autonomy proposal?

This is mainly at the departmental level, but this issue of regional autonomy that they are proposing, is headed by the governor of Antioquia, but I did leave the meeting we had in April with the president a little sad, because along with others mayors we told him: ‘President, the country is built from the regions and we do not see the resources in the regions.’ We see a speech, they take us to workshops that there is money, that there are resources, but when one goes to lower the resources, they stop there because we do not see the investment.

I made a call, for example, to the Minister of Health. How proud to have a minister from our mainland of Tolima, but strangely I see that he has given resources to all the capitals except his own. And political differences cannot be above people’s lives, in Ibagué we need it. There is a government full of sectarianism…

I have no problem sitting with him for the good of the city and I thank him for the spaces for dialogue

Don’t you have a good relationship with the president?

I have no problem sitting with him for the good of the city and I thank him for the spaces for dialogue where we tell him about the situations we are experiencing in the territories and that he listens to us without sectarianism and without hatred, because if the regions do well , because a country is built. I also believe that projects must be presented and the lack of investment that the country also has is because there has not been clarity on the subject of project presentation.


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