CEO, Entire Board Of Medellín’s Ruta N Resign 1 Day After EPM’s Board, Deepening Crisis For Mayor Daniel Quintero
Just one day after the board of directors of Medellín utility EPM resigned in protest, Ruta N CEO Juan Andrés Vásquez, a Daniel Quintero appointee himself resigned along with Ruta N’s entire board of directors, citing a lack of confidence in Mayor Quintero’s stewardship. Ruta N is a startup and innovation incubator owned by the city of Medellín and tasked with the mission of both attracting foreign investment to the city and incubating entrepreneurship and technology innovation in the city.
According to the letter sent by Ruta N’s board of directors to the mayor and seen by Finance Colombia, the board protests that the institution is on its third executive director only 8 months into the mayor’s first term, and that the mayor had gone, Donald Trump-style, directly to the media to announce that he was replacing the entity’s executive director, though according to the institution’s governing documents, that is the prerogative of the board of directors. Further, it lacked decorum to not inform the current office holder, who the mayor did not appear to be removing for cause.
Despite repeated requests by Finance Colombia, Mayor Daniel Quintero, through his press secretary has refused to respond.
Sources connected to the situation tell Finance Colombia that mayor Daniel Quintero had been attempting to circumvent Ruta N’s institutional controls and depoliticized hiring process to appoint friends and supporters in the organization, something called “mermelaza” (marmalade) in Colombia. Quintero said publicly that Vásquez had “distanced himself” from the administration, prompting his abrupt replacement. Vasquez refused to deny in a radio interview when asked directly, that he was told by the mayor’s office who to hire for certain positions, violating the civil service hiring process designed to protect the institution from political intrigue.
Medellín has in recent decades benefitted from a higher level of institutionalism and though not absent, lower levels of municipal corruption compared to other Colombian cities, and the region in general. The city has been relatively drama free compared to other major cities like Cartagena, where the anti-corruption crusading mayor is at war with city council, or the capital Bogotá which has a long history of contentious municipal politics.
For now, Ruta N joins EPM adrift and without corporate governance or steady leadership.