Enrique Peñalosa has been lying about his doctorate for the past 35 years


Juana Afanador @juanaafanador1

Carlos Carrillo @CarlosCarrilloA


Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.11.03 PM

During his campaign Mr. Peñalosa promoted this video. https://vimeo.com/162183915


Last year Enrique Peñalosa was re-elected mayor of Bogota, Colombia. He is not only a key figure in Colombian politics, but also an international urbanism rock star. Since the beginning of his public career he has claimed that he was not a good politician, but a manager; someone with the technical experience to administrate the city. However, it now seems that he has been lying for over three decades.

Initial suspicion relating to Peñalosa’s doctorate occurs when one considers the astonishing speed of his accomplishment. According to most of his biographers, he moved to Paris in 1977, and by 1980 was back in Bogota working in a very modest farm growing tomatoes. There’s no doubt that there has been some exceptional researchers, but it is not very plausible for anyone to attain both a Master’s degree and a Doctorate within just three years.

A PhD, at least in theory, requires a high level of academic achievement and should therefore be available to future researchers. In France, the systematization process for doctoral theses is quite good, and they can easily be found at www.sudoc.abes.fr. We were unable to find any thesis by Enrique Peñalosa, but we did find the thesis of his Transportation Secretary: Juan P. Bocarejo, defended on December 5, 2008 entitled Évaluation économique de l’impact des politiques publiques liées à la mobilité : les cas de Paris, Londres, Bogotá et Santiago.

Since the thesis does not appear on the SUDOC website, our next step was to review the catalogue of the university’s library where the doctorate took place. This resulted in another fruitless search as the Panthéon-Assas does not feature any thesis written by Enrique Peñalosa. So we then decided to write to the institution in order to get some verification about the existence of this increasingly elusive doctorate.

The reply we received raised even more questions. The Director of Comunication, when asked about Dr. Peñalosa and his thesis of Public Administration, informed us that the Panthéon-Assas does not have a PhD in Public Administration. If the student, Enrique Peñalosa, had actually completed his thesis on that subject, it would have been under the guidance of either the Law or Political Science departments.

The university also suggested that the program undertaken by Mr. Peñalosa may not have been a doctorate at all, but another kind of course, for which no thesis would have to had been written.

The Internet is full of CVs and profiles about the life and work of the Mayor, with virtually all of the media in Colombia stating that Mr. Peñalosa holds a Doctorate degree in Public Administration from the University of Paris II. Important international institutions where he has worked, such as the ITDP and NYU, state the same, while his Wikipedia profile agrees. (Wikipedia used the term “PhD”, to be more specific). Could it be that hundreds of respectable sources are simply wrong?

21 febrero

Snapshot from his Wikipedia (February 21st 2016)

The straight answer is yes. This is most likely due to the fact that the lie came directly from the Mayor himself. Enrique Peñalosa comes from a very well known family in Colombian politics, his father was minister, diplomat, ambassador at the UN, etc., so he was probably unquestioned on his return from Paris, claiming that he held a doctorate. The lie; like is so often the case, possibly gained credence by repetition. His election as mayor served to consolidate his reputation and after the huge early success of the TransMilenio (Bogota’s BRT) he quickly became a world-recognized lecturer on urban planning. Who on earth could doubt this brilliant urbanist? If he claims he’s a PhD, then he’s a PhD. Full stop.

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Flap of his book: Capitalism: The Best Option? 1989

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Flap of his book: Democracy and Capitalism: Challenges of the Coming Century. 1990

The flaps of his books (published during the late 80’s) boldly declare that he holds a Doctorate in Public Administration. But curiously in some official documents, such as his CV for the Bogota Chamber of Commerce or for the Australian Cyclists Party he does not mention a Doctorate but instead a “DESS” from the University of Paris.

A DESS (Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées) is a Bac + 5, which in the French system means that you have studied for five years after school. This does not qualify as a doctorate by any stretch of the imagination. It is neither a doctorate under the terms of the francophone countries nor the Anglo-Saxons. The DESS has never been a PhD and the Bologna Declaration in 1999 did not change its status. The level of a DESS can be found in the Article D612-34 of the French Education Code. (see above)


If Mr. Peñalosa has in fact completed his studies at the University of Paris II, at best, he would only have received a specialization certification for one year of study without a thesis.

This is a very serious issue; he has not only lied to Colombia for the past 35 years, but also to the international community. He has built an enormous reputation, traveling the world and deeply influencing the public policies of hundreds of cities. Sadly it seems, it has all been constructed upon a base of ambiguity and dishonesty.


Some more examples:


Carlos Carrillo

Carlos Carrillo

Diseñador industrial de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá), M.A. en Arte y diseño de la Universidad de Donghua (Shanghái)


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Los medios y su Ph.D. en manipulación


  1. Abril 11, 2016 at 12:39 am — Responder

    Carlos, muchas gracias por esta “papa caliente” del doctorado que se esta echando al hombro… no me cabe duda que el tiempo que ha dedicado a investigar este y otros asuntos turbios de nuestra política está dando sus frutos.

    • Abril 11, 2016 at 12:52 am — Responder

      Muchas gracias a usted por su comentario, no podemos permitir que estos políticos le den forma al país sólo en busca de beneficio personal.


  2. Luis Carlos Echegaray
    Abril 11, 2016 at 8:24 am — Responder

    Ustedes mismo lo señalan: Peñalosa nunca reportó tener un doctorado. El DESS fue mal interpretado en medios y editoriales. Sobre personajes públicos existen toda class de referencias erradas. Escapan de su control. Tema superado y aclarado. Vimos la hv del Alcalde y está correcta.

    • Abril 11, 2016 at 10:07 am — Responder

      En serio usted cree que la culpa es sólo de “medio y editoriales”? En serio usted cree que esta situación ha “escapado al control” de Peñalosa por más de 30 años? Uste cree que Peñalosa no vio y autorizó el video de su campaña el año pasado donde sale su verisón animada sosteniendo el títuldo doctoral? Usted cree que Peñalosa no leyó nunca la solapa de sus propios libros? Por Dios!, no nos crea tan ingenuos. Que el engaño exisitió y que fue deliberado y permitido por Peñalosa es un hecho incuestionable, probado por decenas de evidencias, no trate de tapar el solo con un dedo. Tema superado y aclarado? Las cachas!

      • ergoma
        Abril 12, 2016 at 10:53 pm — Responder

        No se quien es mas corrupto Penaloza o los que tratan de tapar el sol con un dedo para defenderlo. entonces segun usted Penaloza nunca leyo la portada de sus libros or Wikipedia y nunca tuvo la oportunidad de correguir el error. no falta sino que digan que penaloza lo hizo de ” avispado” por que a si son los corruptos colonbianos

      • ergoma
        Abril 12, 2016 at 10:56 pm — Responder


    • JOSE
      Abril 14, 2016 at 9:40 pm — Responder

      !!Eeeecheeee Garay!!!! Con la disculpa sinvergüenza de todos estos tipejos cuando los pillan: “fui sacado de conexto”, “no es lo que pretendía decir”. No sea tan descarado!!!!. Hubiera sido “tema superado” si el delincuente e impostor fuera Petro???

  3. Abril 11, 2016 at 10:11 am — Responder

    Además, tampoco es cierto que nunca haya dicho que no tenía doctorado, lo dejo con esta perlita:

  4. Fernando SiLVA
    Abril 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm — Responder

    Gracias por esta investigación. Viajo todos los dias en el BRT “Transmilenio” y me dedico a observar el rostro triste, desconfiado y desencajado de “muchas” personas que hacen uso de este servicio. No es facil entender como unos pocos con poder económico, mediatico, académico …hacen lo que quieren con millones de personas. En el sistema “Transmilenio” no hay Misericordia para nadie.

  5. JOSE
    Abril 14, 2016 at 9:37 pm — Responder

    Pero hubiera sido Petro ya lo estarían investigando todas las “ías” y en la “Gran Prensa” sería noticia todos los días. Las posiciones antes estas mentiras y engaños deberían ser contundentes. Estos tipos son los que han hecho lo que les da la gana con el país y lo seguimos permitiendo

  6. joselo93
    Abril 17, 2016 at 8:26 pm — Responder

    Reblogueó esto en Joselo93’s Weblogy comentado:
    El tramposo no falsificó la Hoja de vida de la función Pública porque sabe que eso le puede traer problemas penales y en realidad no es para el público , Para el público y la prensa que lo cohonesta va la sarta de falsedades y la inflada de sus verdaderas capacidades.

  7. Carlos
    Abril 23, 2016 at 7:30 pm — Responder

    Buen artículo. Pilas con el pie de imagen del primer libro (Año de publicación).

    • Fernando SiLVA
      Abril 24, 2016 at 3:01 pm — Responder

      1889 X 1989

  8. Diciembre 31, 2016 at 11:01 pm — Responder

    Pareciera que esta clase de políticos resultan elegidos en sociedades decadentes donde la truculencia, la sagacidad, la habilidad para el engaño y la distorsión se admiran más que el buen carácter, el intelecto y la busqueda de la verdad.

  9. Fred
    Enero 13, 2018 at 12:19 pm — Responder

    Peñalosa era un riesgo y un peligro al siquiera pensar en que podría volver a ser alcalde. Esta pesadilla se hizo realidad y en el peor momento. Ya que gracias a su oscura gestión en 1998-2000, la ciudad empezó a rezagarse al no permitir la construcción del metro y atrasar a la ciudad con Transmilenio.
    Peñalosa es un gran maestro para hacerse odiar, sentir fastidio y repulsión porque sus decisiones solo favorecen SUS propios intereses. Tiene a un par de locos, fanáticos o gente que se beneficia de su terrible gestión, que lo defienden “a capa y espada”.

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