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Comuna 13, once the cradle for Pablo Escobar’s assassins, targeted as tourist destination

In the 1980s, Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellín Cartel, turned Comuna 13 into the cradle of hired assassins. Adolescents and young people found criminality associated with drug trafficking a means to social advancement.

MEDELLÍN, Colombia ꟷ The Comuna 13 district includes more than 18 neighborhoods in Colombia. It originated through invasions carried out by displaced peasants mainly of Afro descent from the department of Chocó in the last century.

In the 1980s, Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellín Cartel, turned Comuna 13 into the cradle of hired assassins. Adolescents and young people found criminality associated with drug trafficking a means to social advancement.

The commune became the scene of guerrilla and paramilitary infiltration in the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st Century. As a result, 12 military operations were carried out between February and October 2002. Two of these operations included Operation Mariscal and Orión, which left an indefinite number of dead, disappeared, and detained persons.

At the end of 2011, six double sections of escalators were installed to support the mobility of the people who lived on the hillside. The project made tours possible in Comuna 13, a main part of the tourism plan for the city. Despite the revenue received from tourism in these neighborhoods, the living conditions of the majority of its inhabitants remains poor.

All photos by Mariana Delgado Baron.

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Freelance journalist interested in investigative journalism, migration, armed conflict, political violence, peacebuilding, transitional justice, human rights and development. I have experience working in the field with communities affected by the armed conflict in Colombia, in the reconstruction of the memories of victims and survivors. Political scientist and doctor in Social Sciences. I live in Bogota.

marianadelgadobaron.com