The Colombian government and gangs in the city of Medellín, one of the country's crime hotspots, are set to begin peace talks next week to disarm thousands of members of these groups. The city has had a long history of criminal activity ever since the legendary drug kingpin, the one who introduced cocaine to the American markets, Pablo Escobar, when he started trading with the product ever since the mid-1970s.
The visiting High Commissioner for Peace Danilo Rueda told reporters in the nearby city of Medellin, that there’s a public commitment from the government and all armed forces for “total peace “.
Mr. Rueda visited the prison in Itagui, near Medellín, on Friday. It houses some of the leaders of these dangerous criminal gangs, mainly involved in drug trafficking and extortion on a large scale. He added to the press that this step for peace has been worked on for eight months now.
President Gustavo Petro, elected in the summer of 2022, has spent months trying to negotiate with guerrillas and other armed groups operating in the country's provinces. These groups are often associated with drug trafficking. Guevarist ELN, former FARC dissident, in 2016 a peace deal was signed with this Marxist guerrilla, militia, as well as criminal gangs like Clan del Golfo.
Furthermore, included in this plan are mafias like the much feared "Oficina de Envigado", are the heirs of the famous drug baron Pablo Escobar, killed by the police in 1993 in his stronghold of Medellín.
In a letter published on Friday 28 April 2023 and forwarded by the Peace Commission, the leaders of criminal groups in Medellín and the region said that they are in total support of this peace process declared by the government.
As a sign of peace, they declared "the suspension of all hostilities, confrontations or disputes", according to this letter signed "Illegal armed structures of Medellin and the Valley of Abura".
Rueda did not specify an exact date when negotiations would begin or which groups would be involved. He did not rule out the possibility of speaking to gang leaders imprisoned outside Colombia. Adding to the press if needed they will take the necessary diplomatic measures with the concerned countries, mainly the United States, so they can assure this peace deal, even if negotiations have to be done in foreign prisons.
Imprisoned gang leaders outside of Colombia include, Don Berna, a former enemy of Escobar and founder of the "Oficina de Envigado", who was extradited to the United States in 2008.
Among the Andean countries in which the economy of the drugs is heavily present, Colombia represents an exceptional case. Nowhere else this triggered an open confrontation between the drug traffickers and the government, comparable to that which reaches its climax in 1989-90 in the form of a terror that made thousands of victims, most of the innocent civilians of men, women and children, as well as the assassinations of politicians and civil and military personnel, of course those who weren’t corrupt and bought by the cartels.
Edited by : Ritaja Kar
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