I first heard about Antanas Mockus while listening to the Freakonomics podcast: Riding the Herd Mentality…” Mockus is a Colombian mathematician, politician and philosopher… He’s also a ridiculous eccentric and hasn’t let a successful career in academia and politics change that about him.
Here’s a quick summary of some of Mockus’ accomplishments and shenanigans to help paint a picture of who this Spandex clad, corruption fighting, mime employing, Colombian presidential candidate really is. This is obviously a brief summary; for a full breakdown check out the Antanas Mockus Wikipedia page, or the many tribute sites floating around the interweb.
- Earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France (1972)
- 1975: Began working as a professor and researcher for the National University of Colombia in 1975; became the university’s Vice President in 1988 and President in 1991
- Earned a Masters degree in philosophy from the National University of Colombia (1988)
- Contributed to the Colombian Constitution of 1991, replacing the original constitution of 1886
- Mooned an assembly of disruptive students in 1993, later stating that “Innovative behavior can be useful when you run out of words.” Resigned as University President in the aftermath the incident
- Elected Mayor of Bogotá in 1995
- Cut traffic fatalities by 50% by employing 420 mimes to mock and shame traffic violators stating that Colombians were more afraid of being ridiculed than fined. The corrupt Bogotá police force was downsized (because of the reduction of tickets being issued thanks to the mimes) and 400 former officers were trained as mimes
- Became so well liked that he asked residents to voluntarily pay an additional 10% in taxes and 63,000 people did
- Reduced the homicide rate by 70% by creating 7000 community security groups to replace the corrupt police force
- Declared a “Women’s Night” on which the men were encouraged to stay home and take care of the housework and children to give the women a night off
- Had a circus style wedding on the back of an elephant while seven Bengal Tigers watched
- Took a televised shower in a commercial to promote water conservation
- Arranged for the city to sponsor initiatives supporting communities and the arts such as Ciclovia, outdoor concerts and festivals
- Declared the city’s women police in charge of keeping the peace
- Dressed in a Spandex super-hero costume as the “Citizen” and picked up litter to promote citizenship
- Provided drinking water and proper sewage to 95% of all homes, an increase of about 80% prior to his taking office
- Resigned as Mayor and unsuccessfully ran for President of Colombia in 1998
- Ran for Mayor of Bogotá again in 2001, and started his campaign with a ceremony in a fountain “to ask forgiveness for leaving the mayor’s office in an unsuccessful bid for the presidency.”… He won.
- Ran for President of Colombia again in 2006 and 2010 and lost both