Airplane viewed through window at airport gate
Photo: Getty Images – Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd
Since the idea was conceived, in 1977, the construction of the Café Airport in Caldas has been an eternally postponed project, with a chronology of technical and administrative difficulties, gripped behind the scenes by political interests, tax investigations, claims of interests crossed in times electoral and breaches of work of all kinds. Today the reality of this initiative, in addition to bearing the burden of the repeated failures of the past, faces a crossroads full of clouds: an arbitration court that has just been installed; a criminal complaint against the mayor of Manizales, Carlos Mario Marín, a member of the Airport Coffee Association, manager of the project; the unilateral termination of the contract with the Spanish firm Obrascón Huarte Laín (OHL), and the prelude to new and millionaire lawsuits to come.
It is the epilogue of a troubled project that did not take off and that former President Iván Duque promised to deliver at the end of his term. Four years ago he tweeted the following: “I hope as president to land at the Café Airport. That airport will be a gateway for tourism, to promote business, educational, science and technology development.” Such was the support that he wanted to give to a project of this magnitude, that he included it in an atypical way in the National Development Plan. Thus, a budget item was allocated to carry it forward after decades of unfinished works. Aerocivil was in charge of structuring the project. First, it handed over the responsibility and the money to a Colpatria trust in October 2020. Six months later, after a tender, the construction of the first stage was awarded to OHL.