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Marius Kolff, director of CAS International, recently traveled to the Colombian city of Medellín to be present at the prestigious award ceremony Defenzoor del Año 2019 (animal defender of the year). Every year the award ceremony takes place, organized by our sister organization Defenzoores with support from CAS International. The Defenzoor del Año has been awarded for 14 years now, among its winners is the Spanish city of Barcelona. Gustavo Petro was also rewarded as the former mayor of Bogotá, who was a presidential candidate in 2019 for the national elections in Colombia in 2018.
The event took place on Friday 6 September. Marius Kolff:
“The event at which two people were awarded the Defenzoor del Año 2019 already started at nine o'clock. That was because Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga, the mayor of Medellín and also one of the prize winners, was only available at ten o'clock. In the end he was not present at the award ceremony and he sent someone to replace him. The other prize winner was the director of the Metropolitan Region of the Valley of Aburrá, Dr. Eugenio Prieto Soto. This director was there, just like the rector of the University of the Colombian department of Antioquia and a few other important people. The atmosphere was excellent. The importance of animal welfare was well emphasized during a few speeches. The increasing attention of politicians and administrators for animal welfare is striking. ”
Picture: From left to right: Marius Kolff, director of CAS International, Mauricio Gómez, director Defenzoores, Dr. Eugenio Prieto Soto, the director of the Metropolitan Area, John Jairo Arboleda, Rector University of Antioquia, Sergio Orozco, Secretary of the Environment of Medellin. On the front site the counsel of Medellín Alvaro Múnera as a special guest.
The mayor of Medellín received the prize because of his discouragement policy for organizing bullfights in his city. As a result of his policy bullfights were not held in Medellín during the bullfighting season of 2018/2019. He has also worked on various animal welfare programs that make Medellín the prime example of Latin America's animal protection policy. Kolff:
“Because the mayor regretted that he couldn't be there in the morning, he made time for me in the afternoon. I was received at the town hall by the mayor of Medellín, together with my colleague Mauricio (director of Defenzoores). The sculpture belonging to the prize was on his desk, as well as my opened congratulations letter. A pleasant conversation followed and some photos were taken."
During the return flight, Marius spoke with two passengers about the mayor of Medellín and they had a surprising message for him. Kolff:
“On this flight I was sitting next to a "high brow" Colombian couple. The man told me that the mayor of Medellín will stand for election as president of the Republic. According to this man, he has a good chance of being elected. He was described very positively: with integrity, non-corruption, social empathy, etc. Nice that I met this mayor. Maybe that is why I met the future president of the country, which is always great for the good cause I'm fighting for.”
The director of the Metropolitan Region of Medellín received the Defenzoor del Año prize for his commitment to expand various important animal welfare programs from Medellín to the 10 municipalities of the Metropolitan Region of the Valley of Aburrá. As a result, tens of thousands of animals were sterilized and many draught animals were replaced by motorized carts.
Defenzoor del Año 2019 was made possible by support from the University of Antioquia and CAS International.