What is the impact of participatory redistribution of resources? Does it contribute to social justice and empowerment? To answer these questions let’s move to Medellin – a city in Colombia, notorious for drug cartels and urban violence, that is now a pioneer of social democracy experiment.
Medellin is the second biggest city in Colombia. Once rapidly developing, it became a refuge for people running away from ongoing war, who illegally settled on its slopes. It is worth noting that Medellin did not hold the disgraceful name of the most violent city in Columbia without a reason. In this favorable circumstances created a space for illegal activities of drug cartels emerged quickly. Moreover, the ongoing military conflict between leftist guerrillas and the army supported by paramilitary groups has deeply transformed urban areas. What was at first an ideological conflict, now became a conflict over spheres of influence and drug-selling markets between gang.
It was social movement that brought an answer to the rising crisis, corruption and violence, demanding inclusion in urban governance and redistribution of public resources. Participatory budgeting was one of grassroots movement proposal. Since 2004 residents of all districts have decide how to spend 5 % of municipal budget. It is the administration that redistributes the funds among districts, but all the decision making is in the hands of the people.