Gustavo Petro and the investment debate in Antioquia: Between politics and infrastructure


Amid growing political and social controversy, Colombian President Gustavo Petro has raised eyebrows with his recent comments on the distribution of infrastructure investments across the country, with a particular focus on the department of Antioquia. During a speech at the Universidad Industrial de Santander, Petro questioned the large investments being made in Antioquia, suggesting that they were disproportionately benefiting the wealthiest sectors to the detriment of other regions, which he said were more in need of such resources to develop their infrastructure.

He stressed the need to reevaluate the approach to investment in highways, arguing that many of these works take decades to complete, resulting in a delayed benefit to the population, while projects destined for areas of greater economic influence are executed at a much faster pace. Petro has requested a detailed report on spending per kilometer on the country’s highways to prove this disparity, although he admitted that he has not yet received such information.

This controversy is intensifying at a critical time, as 15 infrastructure projects in Medellín and Antioquia are facing financial uncertainty due to a lack of the 4 billion pesos needed to continue them. These projects, which include the Metro 80 and the Toyo Tunnel, have been affected by the lack of a specific allocation of funds in the General National Budget (PGN) for 2024, leading to speculation that the government may use these resources for other purposes considered to be of higher political priority.

Local authorities in Antioquia, including the governor and mayor of Medellín, have expressed concern, interpreting the president’s actions and statements as possible retaliation for political differences. However, Petro and his administration have denied such accusations, although the president’s statements about the 4G highways and other projects have fueled the debate about equity and prioritization in the allocation of infrastructure resources at the national level.

The situation has drawn the attention of former ministers, congressmen, and experts who have warned of the risks that the $13 billion not specifically allocated in the PGN pose to the future of important infrastructure projects throughout the country, including crucial work not only in Antioquia, but also in Bogotá and other regions. The debate over the management and distribution of these funds underscores the complexity of reconciling regional development needs with political and economic strategies at the national level, in a context marked by tensions between different levels of government and between regions with different socio-economic realities.