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The pain endures in victims of Pablo Escobar 30 years after his death

The pain endures in victims of Pablo Escobar 30 years after his death

They killed Pablo Escobar!“, his classmates at school shouted at Gonzalo Rojas Peña when they heard the news. “Aren’t you happy?“, they immediately added when they saw him stunned and sitting on the ground.

The most wanted drug trafficker in the world and the person responsible for the death of his father had been killed on December 2, 1993.

In Medellín, northwestern Colombia, a cornered Escobar tried to flee the police siege through the roof of a house when he was hit by gunfire. Bearded, barefoot, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he looked bloody face down, with his left arm over his head and his right hand on the tiles.

For the first time in several years, Rojas Peña, 14, believed she would feel some peace of mind.

Until then, all Colombians had a feeling that we were leaving the house and we were not going to return.”Rojas told The Associated Press when remembering what happened 30 years ago.

And his father, engineer Gonzalo Hernán Rojas Castro, left his home in Bogotá on November 27, 1989 never to return. He was on board the Avianca plane that exploded that day in the air due to a bomb detonated by the Medellín Cartel, commanded by Escobar. 101 passengers and six crew members died during the terrorist attack that sought to assassinate presidential candidate César Gaviria, who never boarded the flight.

The operation to kill Pablo Escobar occurred on the roof of a house in Medellín.

There was a real threat to Gaviria, he was the political successor of the presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, who on August 18, 1989 had been shot dead during a campaign event in Soacha, south of Bogotá, after declaring war on drug trafficking. and warn that he would extradite them to the United States.

Gaviria won the presidency and governed from 1990 to 1994.

After Galán’s murder, his wife, Gloria Pachón, and their three children had to leave Colombia for France to protect themselves. Juan Manuel Galán, the oldest, remembers that Escobar said that “He would go for the families of his enemies” and a few months later he kidnapped his aunt Maruja Pachón for seven months.

If we had been living in Colombia at that time, probably the strongest instrument of pressure on the government would have been directly one of the members of the immediate family: my mother, my brothers, or even me.“Galán assured the AP.

With the kidnappings of Pachón and a group of journalists, the boss tried to pressure the government not to activate the extradition of drug traffickers.

Paintings by Fernando Botero about Pablo Escobar can be seen in the Museum of Antioquia, located in the city of Medellín.
Paintings by Fernando Botero about Pablo Escobar can be seen in the Museum of Antioquia, located in the city of Medellín.

We prefer a grave in Colombia than a dungeon in the United States“, warned Escobar and other drug traffickers at that time who united under the label of “The Extraditables” to oppose the measure with kidnappings, murders and attacks.

1989 is considered the bloodiest year in the fight against drug trafficking in Colombia. In addition to Galán and the bomb on the plane, the commander of the Antioquia police was murdered, a car with explosives was detonated at the El Espectador newspaper that left more than 70 injured, and another bomb was detonated in front of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), in charge of the state intelligence service, which caused the death of 70 people.

At that time and in the midst of terror, Congress did not approve the extradition and Escobar surrendered to the authorities in 1991 to be held in the “La Catedral” prison, tailored to his needs and in which it was later learned he had control. luxuries and visits at your whim.

Escobar escaped from prison in July 1992 with his trusted men in the face of an operation that sought to transfer him from prison. From that moment on, his persecution worsened and so did the violence.

At the beginning of 1993, the Pepes (Persecuted by Pablo Escobar) appeared in Medellín, dedicated to attacking traffickers associated with Escobar, his employees, family and anyone related to him. More than a hundred members of the Medellín Cartel were killed and Escobar continued to detonate bombs that caused the death of dozens of people.

Pablo Escobar came to Congress with the support of Alberto Santofimio Botero and his Liberal Renewal movement.  (Photo: EL TIEMPO Archive).
Pablo Escobar came to Congress with the support of Alberto Santofimio Botero and his Liberal Renewal movement. (Photo: EL TIEMPO Archive).

The so-called “Boss” not only dealt clandestinely with the Pepes, he was also persecuted by Colombian authorities and special agents of the United States. His telephone lines were intercepted and were key to finding his whereabouts.

A document declassified from United States government agencies and published by the Truth Commission—an entity dedicated to clarifying facts about the Colombian conflict—describes what would be the last intercepted call to Escobar before he died.

In the conversation with his wife Victoria Eugenia Henao, the capo repeatedly asked her what she and the rest of the family were going to do. He also mentioned to her that he was two moves away and felt that he was close, presumably, to resolving the situation.

30 years after his death, the crimes have not been fully clarified and drug trafficking was not defeated, Colombia continues to be the main producer of coca in the world.

Rojas Peña is a political scientist by profession, but he has dedicated much of his life to searching for all those involved in the plane attack in which his father died, for which he formed the Colombia with Memory Foundation.

People pose for photographs at the entrance to the Hacienda Nápoles theme park, which was once the private zoo of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar at his Nápoles ranch, in Doradal, Antioquia department, Colombia, on June 22, 2016. - More than twenty Years after drug lord Pablo Escobar died in a shootout with police, a strange legacy survives him: his pet hippos.  Escobar purchased four hippos from a zoo in California and brought them to his ranch in the early 1980s. Left to fend for themselves on his Naples property, they were raised to supposedly become the largest herd of wild hippos outside Africa: a local curiosity and a danger.  Estimates put them at around 35 in the area today.  (Photo by RAÚL ARBOLEDA / AFP)
People pose for photographs at the entrance to the Hacienda Nápoles theme park, which was once the private zoo of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar at his Nápoles ranch, in Doradal, Antioquia department, Colombia, on June 22, 2016. – More than twenty Years after drug lord Pablo Escobar died in a shootout with police, a strange legacy survives him: his pet hippos. Escobar purchased four hippos from a zoo in California and brought them to his ranch in the early 1980s. Left to fend for themselves on his Naples property, they were raised to supposedly become the largest herd of wild hippos outside Africa: a local curiosity and a danger. Estimates put them at around 35 in the area today. (Photo by RAÚL ARBOLEDA / AFP)

Only Dandenis Muñoz Mosquera, alias “La Quica”, has been convicted of the attack, who is serving a life sentence in the United States, given that the victims included American citizens.

In Colombia, Rojas Peña claims, there is no progress in the investigation: “There have been 34 years in which this remains unpunished. The investigation is in a preliminary state… it is as if the Prosecutor’s Office had just found out that there had been an attack”.

In the assassination of Galán there is greater progress. Former minister and former senator Alberto Santofimio was sentenced to 24 years in prison and Miguel Maza Márquez, former director of the DAS, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The modus operandi was whenever a violent event occurred, such as a murder or a bomb, to blame Pablo Escobar exclusively for the event.“said Galán, who claimed there was a plot to murder his father. “As the years went by, we discovered that not only was the Medellín Cartel present, but also the Cali Cartel and the paramilitaries who were the material authors.”.

The Galáns managed to revive the New Liberalism, a party founded by their father, and in the recent local elections in October they gained a notable political presence with the victory of Carlos Fernando Galán in the mayor’s office of Bogotá.

Pablo Escobar with his wife and children inside the La Catedral prison.
Pablo Escobar with his wife and children inside the La Catedral prison.

Juan Manuel Galán believes that Colombia is seeing a resurgence of the violence that he believed was overcome 30 years ago and that the current peace talks with armed groups are not bearing fruit. He also considers that in drug policy “requires is to move towards drug regulation, which is different from legalization”.

Rojas Peña, for his part, regrets that the new generations who did not suffer Escobar’s violence are left in the “culture of fascination” that show novels, series about his life and even go sightseeing in the places he lived.

With his foundation, Rojas Peña created a website called “Narcostore” that initially pretends to sell t-shirts and other items with Escobar’s face — as some stores actually do.

When trying to make the purchase, the user finds a video with the testimony of an Escobar victim and a warning in red letters: “There is still a long way to go to solve the problem of drug trafficking, but stopping praising it is the beginning”.

Source: Gestion

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