Thursday, December 23, 2004
Academic turns city into a social experiment
Harvard Gazette: "The slim, bearded, 51-year-old former mayor explained himself thus: 'What really moves me to do things that other people consider original is my passion to teach.' He has long been known for theatrical displays to gain people's attention and, then, to make them think.
Mockus, the only son of a Lithuanian artist, burst onto the Colombian political scene in 1993 when, faced with a rowdy auditorium of the school of arts' students, he dropped his pants and mooned them to gain quiet. The gesture, he said at the time, should be understood 'as a part of the resources which an artist can use.' He resigned as rector, the top job of Colombian National University, and soon decided to run for mayor.
The fact that he was seen as an unusual leader gave the new mayor the opportunity to try extraordinary things, such as hiring 420 mimes to control traffic in Bogotá's chaotic and dangerous streets. He launched a 'Night for Women' and asked the city's men to stay home in the evening and care for the children; 700,000 women went out on the first of three nights that Mockus dedicated to them."
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