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Colombia: Twenty Years After Assassination of Luis Carlos Galán

Luis Carlos Galán (1943-1989) was a well-known presidential candidate who was assassinated, and which was ordered by narcotrafficking cartels in 1989. His death came at a time in Colombian politics when he was leading in the polls for the presidential elections for the term 1990-1994.

Ibsen Martínez of Tal Cual Digital [es] writes about the person responsible for the murder:

Galán cayó mortalmente herido por las balas de sicarios, en momentos en que cerraba campaña electoral en Soacha, empobrecida localidad vecina a Bogotá. Desde el primer momento estuvo claro que Pablo Escobar había ordenado matar a quien, sin duda alguna, habría sido presidente de Colombia.

Galán fell mortally wounded by hitmen bullets, when he was closing the electoral campaign in Soacha, an impoverished town near Bogotá. From the first moment, it was clear that Pablo Escobar had ordered the killing of the man, without a doubt, who would have been president of Colombia.

Thus, it is not surprising that 20 years later, that the Colombian media would continue to bring up the investigation regarding the motives for the crime. For example, the crime continues to be of an interest especially after the meeting between Sebastián Marroquín (Pablo Escobar's son) and the children of the assassinated candidate, which was facilitated by a documentary called “Sins of my Father” filmed by the Argentine Nicolás Entel, as mentioned by Verónica Calderón [es]:

Marroquín no puso un centavo, pero el coste emocional fue colosal. Debía volver la vista al pasado del que llevaba huyendo más de 16 años. Y no sólo eso. También sentarse al lado de los hijos del ex ministro de Justicia colombiano, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, y del ex candidato presidencial Luis Carlos Galán.

Entel dio el primer paso. Se acercó a Rodrigo Lara Restrepo y a Carlos, Juan Manuel y Claudio Galán para explicarles que hacía un documental sobre los hijos de las víctimas de la narcoguerra en Colombia. (…) Compartir mesa con el hijo de Pablo Escobar, sin embargo, no fue fácil.

Para romper el hielo, el primer paso fue una carta. “Nunca tuve tanto miedo como hoy […] ¿Cómo le escribes a una familia a la que tu padre le causó tanto daño?”, escribe Marroquín. Pese a que los hijos de los asesinados recibieron con recelo el acercamiento, finalmente decidieron reunirse con el hijo del responsable de su tragedia. Pablo Escobar ordenó matar a Lara Bonilla en 1984 y a Luis Carlos Galán en 1989. Todos eran niños cuando los crímenes. Lara Restrepo y Marroquín sólo se llevan un año. “No fue fácil sentarse con una persona que, aunque es inocente, es el hijo del asesino de nuestros padres”, explica Rodrigo Lara Restrepo. “Vimos que era una víctima más de su padre, por cargar con la culpa y la estigmatización.”

Marroquín did not give one cent [for the making of the documentary], but the emotional cost was colossal. He had to take a look back at the past, from which he had been running for more than 16 years. And not only that, but he had to sit next to the children of the ex-Minister of Justice, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla and of the ex-presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán.

Entel took the first step. He contacted Rodrigo Lara Restrepo and Carlos, Juan Manuel, and Claudio Galán to explain that he was doing a documentary about the children of the victims of the Colombian narco-guerillas. (…) To share a table with the son of Pablo Escobar, however, was not easy.

To break the ice, the first step was a letter. “I never had as much fear as I have today (…) How do you write to a family in which your father caused so much pain?” writes Marroquín. Even though the children of the victims were suspicious of the approach, they finally decided to meet with the son of the one responsible for their tragedy. Pablo Escobar ordered the killing of Lara Bonilla in 1984 and of Luis Carlos Galán in 1989. [The ones who met] were all children during the crime. Lara Restrepo and Marroquín were only one year old. “It was not easy to sit with the person, even though he is innocent, who is the son of the killer of our fathers,” explains Rodrigo Lara Restepo. “We saw that he was one more victim of his father, for bearing the burden of guilt and stigma.”

However, in some sectors of society there is still some skeptical voices regarding Juan Pablo or Sebastían (as he has been known as later). María Jimena Duzán of the blog Round Talk [es] writes:
 

O el hijo de Pablo Escobar nos está mintiendo o no nos ha dicho toda la verdad. Esa es la sensación que nos deja a muchos colombianos el informe de la unidad de investigación de El Tiempo en el que ‘Popeye’, el sicario de Pablo Escobar, acusa a Juan Pablo, el hijo del capo, de haber participado en un operativo en Medellín que terminó con el asesinato del capitán de la Policía Fernando Hoyos Posada, en 1992, es decir, cuando Juan Pablo tenía tan solo 14 años de edad.

Either the son of Pablo Escobar is lying to us or he has not told us the full truth. That is the sense that many Colombians have after seeing the report from the investigation of [the newspaper] El Tiempo, in which ‘Popeye,’ Pablo Escobar's hitman, accuses Juan Pablo, his son, of participating in an operation in Medellín that resulted with the murder of police captain Fernando Hoyos Posada en 1992, in other words, when Juan Pablo was only 14 years-old.

The criticism of Marroquín also involves the media attention that he has been receiving as a result of the film. Marsares of the Colombian digital magazine Equinoxio [es] writes “A show or repentance?

Escobar Jr. viajó a Colombia y concitó la atención sobre sí mismo y sobre los pecados paternales, coincidiendo su visita con el estreno de la cinta, bendecida por este caudal de publicidad gratuita que muy de seguro redundará en la taquilla y en la fama de Entel y Marroquín, a cuyos quince minutos de popularidad tienen derecho como todo el mundo, según Warhol.

Escobar Jr. traveled to Colombia and attracted the attention to himself and to his fatherly sins, his visit coincided with the film's premiere, blessed by this wealth of free publicity which will surely result in high box office sales and fame for Entel and Marroquín, who will have their 15 minutes of fame, according to [Andy] Warhol.

With the upcoming presidential elections, some feel that the attention should be given back to Galán and his ideas, and the current state of Colombian politics. The blog Colombia Invisible [es] quotes Galán's widow:

“que el mejor legado es que las nuevas generaciones lo conozcan”. Y agregan que: “Se pregunta uno, cual legado, si las ideas y proyectos políticos de Galán murieron en el momento de su asesinato. ¿O caso alguna de esas ideas, digamos sus mas controversiales, la lucha contra el narcotráfico y sus denuncias sobre la penetración en las esferas políticas y del propio estado, se retomaron y pusieron en practica; y como resultado de sus ideas, hoy el país esta libre de narcos y de violencia?”

“his best legacy is for new generations to know about him.” She adds, “One asks, what legacy? if Galán's ideas and political projects died at the moment of his murder. Of if any of these ideas, say his most controversial, the fight against drug trafficking and his denouncements against their penetration in the political sphere and the state itself, were taken up and put into practice; and as a result of his ideas, the country is free of narcotraffickers and violence?

A Flickr site called Galán Vive (Galán Lives) has been collecting historical photos of the slain presidential candidate.

Translation by Eduardo Ávila

2 comments

  • I think that it’s good distrust -almost a little- of research on historical facts, is very probable that Pablo Escobar send to kill Galan, but the causes are difficult to verify. The history of deaths in Colombia still has many unknown facts or dubious, as occurred in the courthouse crime.

    Personally, being born on the day of Galan’s death reminds me every year that impunity and injustice have not yet completed and that the truths at times seem impossible to detect.

    Excellent post, congratulations :)

  • Hi dear Cati!!
    I am pleased to welcome in this space yours in this prestigious way.On this subject, the commendable attitude of the Son of Pablo Escobar, especially when he had to make contact with the son of those killed. One issue that still continues to provide variables for analysis.
    hugs for you!!

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