Crossing Guard Mimes, Antanas Mockus (1995)


Antanas Mockus was elected to two non-consecutive terms as mayor of Bogota, Columbia between 1995 and 2003. His tenure was characterized both by his inventive and playful civic initiatives and by their successes. According to Wikipedia: “Under Mockus’s leadership, Bogotá saw improvements such as: water usage dropped 40%, 7000 community security groups were formed and the homicide rate fell 70%, traffic fatalities dropped by over 50%, drinking water was provided to all homes (up from 79% in 1993), and sewerage was provided to 95% of homes (up from 71%). When he asked residents to pay a voluntary extra 10% in taxes, 63,000 people did so.”

When Mockus took office, one of the problems he looked to address was the chaos of traffic in the capitol. Instead of issuing tickets to jaywalkers and traffic code violators, he hired about 20 mimes to mock violators, figuring that Bogotans were more likely to respond to humiliation than to punishment. This proved so successful a strategy and so popular a campaign that an additional 400 people were trained as mimes and acted as traffic controllers.

Below: Mockus interview is number 47 on this playlist.

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