Embroiled in scandal and facing strong criticism from a range of stakeholders across Colombia, Daniel Quintero abruptly resigned as mayor of Medellín three months before his term was set to end, citing his desire to campaign for a political ally and party mate in the upcoming October 29 elections rather than complete his time as the top public official in the nation’s second largest city.
In addition to throwing his support behind Independientes Party candidate Juan Carlos Upegui to succeed him — and starting to position himself for a likely presidential campaign in 2026 — Quintero spoke about other politicians, including Federico Gutiérrez (Fico), in public posts shortly after resigning on October 1.
Photo: Daniel Quintero Calle, mayor of Medellín. (Credit: Jefbanguera)
“I cannot sit idly by while the established politicians through Fico support those who stole from Orbitel, from Hidrohituango, from UNE,” he stated.
In the video comments posted to Twitter, Quintero further said that the reasons he resigned mirror those that initially motivated him to run for office.
“The fundamental cause that led me to make this decision is the same one that led me to be mayor, which is to fight for those children so that they have a different opportunity,” he said in the video. “That is not just the generation that I dealt with as mayor, those are all generations. The Medellín that dreams of the future, that dreams of becoming an industrial power, but also the senior adults who dream of a dignified old age and, in general, people who hate being cheated and having their money stolen. We cannot sit idly by, and today all the polls mark [Independientes Part candidate] Juan Carlos as the only alternative to be able to confront Fico-Uribismo — a term coined by him.”
Upon the departure of Quintero, who was suspended as mayor for more than a year in 2021 and has been involved in numerous investigations during his term as mayor, Óscar de Jesús Hurtado Pérez was appointed to take over as acting mayor until the end of the year.
Quintero’s Resigned Amid Investigations
Although Daniel Quintero is the first popularly elected mayor to resign while in office, he was not the first Medellín mayor to do so. Former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, years before becoming president of Colombia between 2002 and 2010, did the same on December 15, 1982, as recently recounted by El Espectador. On that occasion, he argued that he had deep differences with the governor of Antioquia, Álvaro Villegas Moreno, over the direction of the municipal public services company (EPM). Before the Colombian constitution gave free rein to the popular election of mayors in 1988, they were appointed by the governor of the department, meaning that the president of the country was the one who defined the governors.
Another municipal authority who resigned was former presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernández, who left his position as head of Bucaramanga on September 16, 2019, three months before the end of his term as mayor, per Infobae. He too stepped down in part to support the mayoral campaign of another candidate,Juan Carlos Cárdenas — who did in fact win the election.
The news source speculated that Quintero — as with Hernández — was also motivated to resign to avoid being disqualified by Procuraduría from running for president. Because Quintero was previously suspended from participation in politics and he is being investigated in several processes opened by Procuraduría, he may have wanted to avoid getting snared by what amounts to a “three strikes and you’re out” law.
Specifically, the Law 1952 of January 28, 2019 says a candidate “cannot have been disciplined three or more times in the last five years for serious or minor intentional misconduct or for both. This disqualification will last for three years from the date of execution of the last sanction.”
As of now, in addition to his alleged inappropriate participation in politics in 2022 in support of Gustavo Petro, Quintero faces claims of a possible patrimonial detriment that would harm the capital of Antioquia due to a highly expensive advertising campaign (May 13, 2023) and a disciplinary investigation with the purpose of verifying the apparently disrespectful statements made by Quintero against the councilman Sebastián López.
Other troublesome public issues may include (# D-2021-1723420) referring to press information that was received by the Veeduría of Transparency and Anticorruption (Department of Antioquia) about possible irregularities in the appointment of the secretary of infrastructure of Medellín, as well as other appointments in the mobility headquarters of the metropolitan area and others dependencies. According to the network of Veedurías Ciudadanas, Daniel Quintero was paying electoral favors.
The other process is regarding a supposed case of nepotism (# D-2020-1530887), as reported by the national outlet W Radio, about officials of the mayoralty of Medellín who occupy middle and high-range positions in Daniel Quintero’s office and in the Social Manager office.
Daniel Quintero Presidential Ambitious and National Independientes Push
In the upcoming regional elections across the country, Quintero’s party, Independientes, has seven other mayoral candidates in cities including Cali, Cartagena, and Sincelejo, This political collective also has seven other aspirants for governor in departments such as Arauca, Guainía, Santander and the San Andrés archipelago.
However, per a poll by Invamer, these candidates plans will now have to deal with the fact that Quintero left Medellín’s city hall with a disapproval of his management of 61.9% and more than two-thirds of respondents saying Quintero did less than what they were expecting of him when they backed him with the vote.
Regardless of the figures, the 43-year-old politician is committed to strengthening the Independientes Party in order to consolidate a solid platform that will support his presidential campaign in 2026. a goal for which it already has an early wink from
Current President Gustavo Petro, interview with W Radio on May 2, has already acknowledged the known plans and — at least at the time — optimism from the left for a future Quintero presidential run.
“Perhaps he will be able to impact the population outside of Medellín,” said Petro on the radio.