Colombia’s ‘underwear mayor’ is freed: and he wants a name change
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Colombia’s ‘underwear mayor’ is freed: and he wants a name change

His political campaign might have started behind bars, but mayor of the Colombian town of Yopal, Jhon Jairo Torres has been granted conditional release from Bogotá’s notorious La Modelo prison.

Torres, who will run as mayor from 2016 to 2019, was charged with selling around 140 hectare of lots to low income families within the region, which it then transpired had previously belonged to drug traffickers.

The politician allegedly sold 10,000 lots for between $10,000 to $13,0000, BBC Mundo reports.

A fresh start

Yet the once famed female lingerie seller (hence his “Jhon Calzones” nickname) is now set on clearing his name.

“Please respect me, I’m Jhon Jairo Torres Torres, I’m not ‘Jhon Calzones’, please respect me.” The mayor told national radio station RCN.

Torres then went on to add “I was chosen by the municipality, by local people, with over 25,000 votes, as a Colombian citizen the country, and even the world, are witness to the fact that Jhon Jairo Torres Torres has committed transparent acts and I am thankful that justice was served today.”

Wearing an electronic tag, Torres is now ready to fully assume responsibility in his position as mayor.

Drying out

Yopal, which lies at the gateway to Colombia’s eastern plains – famed for its rich natural resources – faces a far more serious problem. In fact, the region has not escaped the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon, currently wreaking havoc around the continent. Rather than heavy rainfall it is drought which is wreaking havoc on farmland and killing off hundreds of species of wildlife and livestock.

Torres’ Movimiento Social la Bendición party planned to build an aqueduct and water treatment plant, providing respite to the long suffering 140,000 residents of Yopal, struggling to even store drinking water.

“Yopal can expect a total change involving water, development, health, education and social investment, which will rid the region of political fraud and machines, I have become mayor of Yopal and am now part of the Government of Casanare.”

But will Torres rise to the challenge and be suitable for his new position?

Certainly his release has not been well received by State Prosecutor Jorge Perdomo.

“It’s very worrying that despite such a serious investigation undertaken by the prosecution, where concrete criminal hypotheses were outlined, the state does not possess the instruments necessary to take more effective measures to avoid that these kind of people can continue to participate in the country’s public and political spheres.” He told daily El Colombiano.

Will Torres be the answer to Yopal’s long dry spell? Only time will tell. Yet the ‘underwear’ mayor has a lot of people that he still needs to impress.

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