As home to one of the world's most powerful and ruthless drug syndicates, Medellín became synonymous with murder in the 1980s. In 1993, the year Colombian police killed Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar, this city of two million had the highest per capita murder rate in Colombia — and the world. 135
Medellín also leads Colombia in child murders. According to the Departamento de Estudios Criminológicos e Identificación (Department of Criminological Studies and Identification - DECYPOL), the municipal coroner's office, 14 percent of the murders that took place between 1986 and May of 1993 were of children, a total of 4,766. 136 Although firm statistics are not yet available for 1993, according to some government officials the number of murdered children for that year alone could be as high as 1,200. 137
"Here, grandparents bury their grandchildren," a human rights activist told us. 138
The drug business plays a central role in murder. Children are recruited as traqueteros, 139 bodyguards, mules, lookouts, and the dreaded sicarios, who shoot their victims from motorcycles that speed away. Between 1986 and 1991, as business boomed, Medellín's homicide rate increased 311 percent. More dramatic was the homicide rate for children, which leaped 566 percent, from 171 children in 1986 to 1,021 in 1991, the largest increase for any age group. Most were male, poor, and died on a weekend night downtown and in the poor boroughs, called comunas, that overlook the Aburrá Valley, where Medellín lies. 140
For the authors of a study on Medellín violence, the conclusion was clear. "Homicidal violence became more selective with a trend toward involving victims who are increasingly youths." 141
Yet even after Escobar's death, murder remains an everyday occurrence. 142 Although there was an initial decrease in overall homicides as 1994 began, the rate soon jumped, surpassing the same period in 1993. 143 During a June three-day weekend, for instance, two people an hour were murdered, including a fifteen-year-old girl whose bullet-ridden body was found at the Curva del Diablo (Devil's Curve), one of Medellín's twelve recognized botaderos de cadáveres. 144 While the murder of soccer star and city native Andrés Escobar (no relation) made world headlines, in this city only his fame distinguished him from most of the others killed in 1994. 145
Community leaders and local human rights groups told Human Rights Watch/Americas that elements apart from the drug trade that contribute to the high murder rate for children are poverty, drug addiction, family break-up, and a lack of opportunity. While malls, fashionable boutiques, cineplexes, and discotheques cater to the very rich, more than half the population struggles to feed, clothe, and house their families. 146
Yet especially among the young, the yearning to have things — a motorcycle, imported basketball shoes, a gold chain — is tantalized by the proliferation of sumptuous goods spawned by the drug trade. In Medellín, symptomatic of the premium placed on looking wealthy are the street vendors who sell fancy labels cut from stolen clothing, which can be resewn into cheaper brands. For those desperate to acquire status and money, crime offers quick access. 147
While Medellín has a long history as an intellectual and artistic center, its culture also values entrepreneurship and the ideal of the "self-made" man who beats the odds. Although many paisas, as those from Antioquia are known, may have disapproved of Pablo Escobar's use of terror and murder, others admired his business acumen and philanthropic largesse, and may agree with Escobar's own assessment that he was "the most decisive, most energetic, most audacious Antioquian leader of the 80s." 148
"El Patrón" ("The Boss"), as he was known, is gone. But the houses, parks, and soccer fields he built remain. As a role model, Escobar has left an impression on Medellín's youth that will take years to fade. 149
But the picture would be incomplete without a final element that provides not only another murderous force, but also part of the context in which murders occur: the role of state agents as murderers who go unpunished, observers who let murders occur without stepping in to stop them, and authorities who fail to ensure that the rights of children are protected.
Human Rights Watch favors appropriate law enforcement activity to control and eradicate criminal activity and protect law-abiding citizens from harm. The Colombian government has an obligation to search out criminal groups, and punish appropriately those individuals judged responsible by a court of law. While we support judicial proceedings that take into account a child's age and the desirability of promoting rehabilitation in accordance with Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, too often children in Colombia who commit murder and are arrested are released in a matter of days because there is a shortage of facilities to keep and treat them. Despite the constant talk in official circles of the importance of "public order," in Medellín it remains in the hands of those with guns, whether they carry an official identification or act on their own. 150
"When the State gives up its responsibility to provide security, we enter into barbarism," commented one human rights activist. 151
As with other murders in Colombia, most murders in Medellín go unpunished. According to Iván Velásquez Gómez, the Regional Procurador, 98 percent of the city's homicides go uninvestigated and unprosecuted. Understaffed and underfunded, his office fares little better in investigations against members of the security forces implicated in human rights abuses. 152
"We could affirm that, in Medellín, criminal investigation does not exist," he told us. "It is now more violent in Medellín than it was three years ago, with Pablo Escobar. There are no measures to slow down this reality whether deaths occur at the hands of the security forces or private individuals." 153
In the following pages, we will examine violence and youth and the relationship to government human rights violations. Although violence is complex, it is by no means beyond understanding — or change. We close this section with a review of the effort by many Medellín residents — including gang members, the Church, human rights groups, NGOs, militias and some government agencies — to stop violence and obligate the government to live up to its duty to protect life.
Although Teófilo* is unusual, his story is not. Born in Medellín to a single mother, he began experimenting with marijuana, bazuco, and cocaine at nine. At eleven, he committed his first theft. Two years later, he bought his first pistol. Although he declines to specify, he admits he is a murderer. 154
The gang he still leads worked for a man known as "El Gordo" ("The Fat Man"), a local drug kingpin who employed Teófilo as a mula, to transport drugs. With Teófilo's siblings smuggling cocaine into the United States, the family prospered, buying clothes, motorcycles, and the matched living room set that still sits in his mother's house. 155
The family paid a high price for their success. A sister was killed in a gang war. Two other siblings are in jail. Paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair by a police bullet at eighteen, Teófilo is the last one left alive from his original gang. 156
While the children who belong to gangs are often victimizers, murdering with little apparent remorse, they are also victims: tortured by police, murdered in paseos, shot down by police-led "social cleansing" squads. Most murders of children in which members of the security forces are implicated take place in two ways: individually, as the culmination of a paseo, or in groups, machine-gunned from passing cars as youths gather on street corners in poor neighborhoods. 157
Police, Teófilo told us, played a dual role with his gang:
Sometimes they would sell us pistols. Other times, it was threats of a paseo to Santa Elena (a botadero de cadáveres). If they thought I was involved in a crime, they would take me to the station. There, they called me `gonorrhea.' They would force a plastic bag over my head until I told them things. Other times, they threatened to put needles under my fingernails or give me electric shocks. Once, I was in the F-2 thirteen days for a murder. The police kill you alive with torture. Rival gangs just shoot you, and that's better. 158
Hundreds of gangs operate in Medellín, dedicated to drug-trafficking, robbery, car theft, and extorsion. 159 In some neighborhoods, they protect their neighbors, committing crimes elsewhere. In others, they prey on their neighbors, creating a no-man's land of fear. 160
Gang members told Human Rights Watch/Americas they had no choice but to join a gang, then do what they were told. Teenagers from Bello, a town bordering Medellín, recited the following verse to explain:
Fumar para matar
Matar para comer
Comer para vivir
Smoke dope to kill
Kill to eat
Eat to live161
Medellín's multiple graveyards are filled with above-ground niches dedicated to children shot, knifed, and beaten to death. Often, the gang decorates the meter-square concrete face of the niche with flowers in the color of a favorite soccer team. 162
For community activists in the Northwest comuna, gangs can be divided into two groups: large gangs, often with direct ties to the drug trade, and small gangs, whose members they call chichipatos: small-time criminals. Children start as chichipatos. If they survive, they may graduate to better-known gangs like "Los Magníficos," part of the Medellín Cartel. 163
Sometimes, big gangs, as a way to win support from their neighbors, will kill the chichipatos stealing stereos or smoking marijuana. At Christmas, they also buy the roast suckling pig eaten during traditional street parties and give presents to children. 164
"The small gangs are the ones who affect daily life by stealing or killing in their own neighborhood," community activists told us. "When the big gangs kill them, people are happy, since it improves the quality of life." 165
Fausto*, a gang member at thirteen, began a three-year prison sentence for killing a man with a knife at sixteen. 166 After his release, he told us, "I was famous because of the killing... After I got out of jail, I was in charge of a gang." 167
During those two years, he was arrested four times by police, who he says beat and tortured him with near-suffocation. Between 1991 and 1993, he estimates that over 200 youths, including children, were killed by police and rival gangs in his neighborhood. 168
Other "social cleansing" in the Northwest comuna is carried out by merchants acting in concert with both active and retired members of the security forces living in the area. "Cleansings" are sporadic, but wide-ranging. Sometimes, shooting lasts all night, residents told us. On those nights, it's best to stay indoors, since anyone on the street is at risk. 169
In the Northwest comuna there are two military bases, four police bases, ten CAI, and six inspecciones de policía, civil authorities charged with doing the initial investigation into crimes. Nevertheless, activists told us, neither the police nor the military prevent "cleansing" campaigns or dismantle large gangs. Even when gangs operate at the gates to bases, they are left alone. Some gangs, they suspect, are actually run by a corrupt police agent or military officer. 170
One connection is the sale or rental of weapons seized by police to gangs, which they say is an everyday occurrence. 171 Despite the presence of gangs in some areas, like a bustling market nearby, police rarely move against well-known leaders. 172
In the absence of police protection, some neighbors formed "self-defense" groups that carry out their own "social cleansing" campaigns, usually against chichipatos. 173
"These vigilantes felt a lot of power and committed many arbitrary killings," one activist commented. "Just eight days ago, masked men came to a neighborhood, killed some drug addicts, then ran. One of the victims was a child. People don't get upset, though. When they hear the name of the victim, and realize he was a bad one, they relax. They only get upset if the victim was innocent (sano, literally healthy). It's as if a weight is taken off our shoulders." 174
In 1993, for the first time, the local militia bought the pig for the Christmas feast in one Northwest comuna neighborhood. Formed by young people, the militia replaced the "self-defense" group that had been operating for the past several years. With some training and a sense of esprit de corps, the youths and children who make up militias have formalized private justice throughout Medellín. 175
The first Medellín militias were formed in the early 1980s. While some were independent, others received training and weapons from guerrilla groups like the FARC and Ejército Nacional de Liberación (National Liberation Army-ELN). 176 By 1994, municipal authorities estimated that at least 3,000 youths, including children, belonged to militias in Medellín. 177
In Moravia, a settlement begun in 1977 north of downtown, a militia with ties to a faction of the ELN has been operating since 1991. Built on the trash dump that once served the city, Moravia is now a rambling neighborhood of brick and concrete houses, fringed by cardboard shacks. When it rains, odorless methane gas from the compacted trash below seeps into the air. A soccer field, covered in green sod and lit by tower lights, was donated by Pablo Escobar. Bordered by the Medellín River and the soon-to-be-inaugurated metro station on its opposite bank, the peak of Moravia's trash mountain overlooks the Curva del Diablo, a popular botadero de cadáveres. 178
Dario* is the twenty-six-year-old leader of the Moravia militia. He grew up as a gamín recycling trash excavated from the Moravia dump. 179 Before the militia, nine gangs divided Moravia into fiefdoms, always feuding. After a fierce conflict, the militia finally gained control, telling the remaining gang members to leave or be killed. 180
Dario says the militia provides an essential service. Local merchants pay between 1,000 and 2,000 pesos ($1.50-$3.00 U.S.) a week for protection. According to Dario, all payments are voluntary, though we received reports that businesses that refuse to pay are forced to close. 181 The Moravia militia got their weapons from the CRS, which also taught them to shoot. 182 Other militias have been tied to the kidnappings of wealthy businessmen or bank robberies, which fund their operations. 183
The Moravia militia first warns petty criminals, drug addicts, thieves, and gang members to stop committing crimes. If they persist, they are killed during the militia's nightly rounds. 184 Warnings are sometimes given in the context of so-called consejos de guerra, war trials, which can end with an execution. In the first three months of 1991, militias were implicated in the killings of 126 youths in the Northeast comuna according to municipal authorities. Human rights groups said this was a decrease in comparison to 1990, when the militias were still battling gangs for control of many areas. 185
While initially militias dealt only with crime, some began to mediate in family disputes and resolve disputes between neighbors, functioning as a kind of court. Other accepted specific contracts, for instance to guard businesses, gasoline pumps, and delivery trucks. 186
Young children are encouraged to join as errand-runners, lookouts, and bodyguards. Some joined the Moravia militia as a measure of self-protection, like Patricio*:
It was dangerous for young boys not to be in the militia because those from outside Moravia would suspect you were a militia anyway. 187
In Moravia, many residents view militias as more effective and dependable than the police. One woman told us that even though her house has been robbed twice, the police have never come to investigate. By the time she can report crime, she says, the thieves have already made off with the stolen goods. The last time thieves tried to break in, though, local militia members scared them off. 188
Militias have even won a grudging acceptance from community activists and government officials pledged to maintaining order despite reports that they engage in intimidation and often murder suspected thieves and drug addicts. 189
However, problems with the militias have been many. Dario admits that the militia used to accept former gang members, who ended up committing crimes in the name of the militia. One group stole the militia's sawed-off shotguns, provided by guerrillas, and set up a new gang. Others began extorting money from local businesses. 190 Militias have also been accused of forcing young people to join or abandon the area. In some parts of Medellín, neutrality is impossible.
Unlike gangs, some militias have been targeted by the police and military because of their political connections. In one section of the Northwest comuna, we were told, the Colombian Army has sent out patrols with well-known gang members, so that the youths can identify others associated with the militias. 191
"When this happens, the ones who pay the price are the neighbors, who see crime increase when the militias are chased out," one activist commented. 192
As militias began expanding, fierce battles broke out with gangs, who defended their territories. Dario, for instance, cannot leave Moravia without a security detail for fear of being killed by local gangs. 193
THE VILLATINA MASSACRE
The involvement of many youths in gangs and militias has meant, children told us, that all youth have become identified as criminals, whether or not they are involved in crime. 194 At the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s, community activists reported numerous attacks by the police against groups of youths, evidently revenge for the killings of police. 195
At various times, the cartel has declared war on police, promising, as it did in 1990, to pay large sums for dead police agents. Since police identify poor youths as criminal, they are natural targets for counterattack. 196
The most brazen attack occurred on November 15, 1992, when eight children and one adult were shot down in Villatina, in east Medellín. The youngest victim, Johanna Mazo, was eight. The rest, all boys, were members of a Christian group called "Caminantes Constructores del Futuro" ("Walking Builders of the Future"). 197
According to witnesses, the young people were talking on a street corner at about 9:00 p.m. when three vehicles stopped nearby. Twelve individuals, including one who was masked and another who was dressed as a woman, approached, carrying weapons associated with the police. Thinking that the men were police, some of the youth took out their identification cards. However, the men began screaming at them to fall to the ground, and started shooting. 198
At one point, the men apparently considered sparing the life of Johanna Mazo, who several children attempted to defend. Reportedly, however, one of the killers disagreed, saying: "How can we leave this bunch of sons of bitches alive if they are the ones killing us?" He killed her. 199
Before dying, one of the victims told his mother that he had recognized one of the killers as a member of the F-2, police intelligence. Suspicion centered around some police who lived in Villatina and knew the youths. During the mass funeral, witnesses say these agents touched some of the caskets as if to mark a victory over the dead youths. 200
Since the victims were either activists or young children, it was clear that the massacre did not stem from intra-gang violence or the drug trade. One human rights report linked the Villatina massacre to the killings earlier that day of two police agents, suggesting that the men sought revenge for the two agents' deaths. 201 Another theory holds that a band of sicarios used to meet on the same corner, and the massacre was a tragic case of mistaken identity. Finally, some of the victims were well-known youth activists who protested police abuses, provoking the ire of police living nearby. 202
After family members and supporters protested what they saw as an emerging cover-up of police involvement, they were called to the city morgue and interrogated by police who asked them why they believed the F-2 and SIJIN, the judicial police, were involved. Harassment and veiled threats followed. 203 In early December, neighbors reported that strange cars were again cruising the neighborhood, and they feared attack. 204
On December 31, two police vehicles carrying masked men entered Villatina in the late afternoon. The well-armed men broke into several houses, forced the inhabitants to the floor, and demanded to know where several adults were. Already prepared for a new attack, neighbors had called a nearby Army base, which sent soldiers. 205 Soldiers traded fire with the masked men. Two were wounded and later identified as members of the SIJIN. 206
The SIJIN had apparently falsified a search warrant from the signed pieces of paper they routinely get from lax fiscales. That day, police had learned that the Procuraduría investigation into the Villatina massacre had named them as responsible and had been sent to the civilian courts for trial. 207
As with other investigations involving the police, men implicated in the killing were quickly transferred, delaying the inquiry. The investigation has been transferred to the capital, to protect the investigators from frequent death threats. 208 The man accused of giving the order to kill the children, Colonel Hernández, continues to be the head of the Medellín F-2 and is appealing a Procuraduría order that he be dismissed. 209
"As long as there is no exemplary punishment against members of the high command who participate in such acts, people will not believe there is justice," we were told by Medellín personero Sergio Estarita. 210
Witnesses continue to be harassed. Some gave their depositions secretly; others refused out of fear. Despite the wealth of evidence linking police to the massacre, there has been no verdict in the trial. 211
Since the massacre, gangs, not youth groups, have taken over Villatina. "Los Porkys," "Los Mejicanos," and "Los Barbados" 212 have made it dangerous for strangers to visit, even if they are known to the neighbors. 213 Villatina residents say the average age of gang members is fourteen. 214
EFFORTS TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
Although tragic, the Villatina massacre provided the impetus for a city-wide protest against the murders of youth. Today, that protest has matured into a broad-based series of talks that shows signs of leading the city out of its murderous passage.
Leading the effort is the Mesa de trabajo por la paz en Medellín (Working Table for Peace in Medellín), chaired by Msgr. Héctor Fabio Henao, who heads the Social Outreach office of the Catholic Archdiocese. Represented by Msgr. Henao, the Working Table, which includes representatives from gangs and militias as well as the church, human rights groups, government representatives, and community activists, has provided a forum for gangs and militias to negotiate with the government.
For the government, the lead agency has been the Consejería para Medellín, a presidential office whose responsibilities include addressing violence and its root causes. Along with the mayor's office, the Consejería has funded the building of new schools, youth programs, job training, and pacts with militias and gangs. 215 Also influential have been the offices of the capital-based Consejería para asuntos de Paz and the Government Ministry.
Negotiations have borne fruit. Among the first to voluntarily turn in their weapons were seven gangs in Barrio Antioquia, including the one led by Teófilo. In fact, "El Gordo," who once taught them the drug trade, was the one who ordered a cease-fire. 216 At the Christmas feast in 1993, "El Gordo" sealed a cease-fire over roast pig, beer, and a vow to kill anyone who opposed it. 217
After a government parley, twenty-five gang members were hired to sweep streets, paid by local merchants happy to see an end to violence. Teófilo runs a food warehouse. 218 Another one hundred youths began work for the municipality. 219 Other youths receive half of a minimum-wage salary to learn construction techniques and other trades. 220
Other gangs in Santa Cruz, Las Granjas, Santa Inés, Bello, and Itagüi, the latter two both towns bordering Medellín, have also declared cease-fires and have entered into government negotiations. 221
On February 15, 1994, two groups of militias signed a pact with the government, promising to turn in their weapons on March 8 in exchange for concessions. The Milicias del pueblo, para el pueblo, with 300 members, and the CRS-backed Milicias independientes del Valle de Aburrá, with one hundred members, had begun negotiations almost two years earlier. Despite the failure of other government negotiations with guerrillas, held in Mexico, talk with militias continued. 222 Later pacts with militias included groups based in Moravia and Manrique, an estimated 85 percent of the militias in Medellín. 223
In exchange, the government agreed to set up a security cooperative that would employ 300 former militia members as community police (called COOSERCOM); pay community police salaries and benefits over a two-year period; provide equipment, including vehicles and guns; invest over $500,000 in health care, schools, and job training; and investigate additional ways to have former militias participate in the electoral process as legal political groups. In addition, former militia members were pardoned for all crimes. 224
While many remain optimistic about an easing of tensions, problems remain. Prime among them is the almost complete lack of action to investigate and prosecute official involvement in human rights violations or to show progress on investigations that implicate members of the security forces. Villatina provides the best example. Not only has the case yet to conclude, but the alleged mastermind of the massacre continues in his job.
"There is a clear lack of willingness on the part of the State to strengthen control over the security forces," we were told by one government official. 225
This official believes the Colombian government continues to foment the creation of "private justice" groups like the PEPEs, supported by important financial interests. As an example, he cited his repeated suggestions to the city Security Council, made up of the mayor, the police chief, and the general in charge of the Fourth Brigade, that they sponsor a general collection of legal and illegal weapons. 226
"I have been told this is impossible," he told us. "How would the owners of large warehouses then arm their security guards or their personal bodyguards?" 227
The government has yet to respond fully to doubts about this latest attempt to "privatize" justice, this time in the guise of COOSERCOM. Some worry that it could turn into another corrupt force. At a time when the government cannot control its regular security forces, it is adding new ones that are neither properly trained nor operating with adequate oversight. 228
Both militia members and gangs worry about security for themselves. Militias have heard that some gangs are just waiting for them to don their COOSERCOM uniforms before they counterattack; gang members fear that going public has left them with a death sentence from local militias. 229 In the days after the murder of soccer star Andrés Escobar, when the mayor's office had suspended permissions to carry arms, sicarios prowling the Northeast comuna shot down two COOSERCOM militia members in an attack that was later vindicated by a group calling itself Muerte a Milicianos Desmovilizados, Death to Demobilized Militia Members. 230
Finally, out of all the youths involved in violence, only a small percentage are negotiating for reconciliation, leading some observers to doubt that individual pacts or treaties will lead to a solution for overall violence in Medellín. The Medellín press reported in August that a new "self-defense" group calling itself "Los Autodefensas del Norte," in the Northwest comuna, had formed, replacing the local militia that had turned in their weapons after government negotiations.231 Despite a pact between some gangs, militias, and the authorities in Itagüi, ten youths, including eight children, were shot down in October in what some locals charged was a "social cleansing" attack.232
Certainly, there is support for the peace effort; but no one is claiming victory yet.
"The process is very fragile, and could collapse at any moment," one human rights activist told us. "But if we don't try, what is the alternative?" 233
135 "Medellín, la más violenta," by Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters, El Mundo, March 23, 1994; and Population Crisis Committee, "The World's Cities," poster, 1990.
136 Carlos Mario Restrepo Restrepo et. al, "Perfíl de las victimas de homicidio en la ciudad de Medellín durante el período de enero de 1986 y mayo de 1993," trabajo de grado presentado para optar al título de abogado, Universidad de Antioquia, Facultad de Derecho, Medellín, 1993, p. 33.
137 HRW/Americas interview, Consejería para Medellín, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
138 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
139 A young person who takes part in the initial buying and selling of pasta básica, raw cocaine, and the finished product; taken from the sound of machinegun fire (traki-traki).
140 Most murder victims — 28 percent — are between nineteen and twenty-four. Restrepo, "Perfil...", pp. 26, 102-110; and letter from the Medellín coroner's office to Medellín personero Sergio Estarita Herrera, May 20, 1994.
141 Restrepo, "Perfíl...," p. 35.
142 While the drug trade continues in Medellín, observers believe it is in the hands of smaller groups without the Cartel's ability to mount nation wide havoc.
143 HRW/Americas interview, Corporación Región (an NGO), Medellín, June 8, 1994; and Letter from the Medellín coroner's office to Medellín personero Sergio Estarita Herrera, May 20, 1994. See also Juan Gonzalo Betancur B., "Violencia e impunidad, males que persisten," El Colombiano (Medellín), May 25, 1994.
144 "Dos víctimas por hora en la ciudad," El Mundo (Medellín), June 11, 1994; and Restrepo, "Perfíl...", pp. 134-135.
145 "Pelota caliente," Semana, July 12, 1994, pp. 26-35.
146 HRW/Americas interview, Corporación Región, Medellín, June 8, 1994.
147 For an examination of what leads children into Medellín's dangerous drug trade, see Alonso Salazar, To Live and Die in Medellín (Nottingham: Latin America Bureau, 1990). Also depicting violence and youth in Medellín is the film Rodrigo D.: No Futuro, directed by Victor Gaviria, who used gang members as actors (Santafé de Bogotá: Focine, 1989).
148 The quote comes from his unpublished autobiography. Luis Cañón M., El Patrón: Vida y muerte de Pablo Escobar (Santafé de Bogotá: Planeta, 1994), p. 16.
149 Alonzo Salazar, "Young Assassins of the Drug Trade," NACLA: Report on the Americas, Volume XXVII, No. 6, May/June, 1994, pp. 24-28.
150 Seventy-one percent of all 1993 murders were committed with guns. Fiscalía General de la Nación Seccional CTI Medellín, "Causa de Muertes Violentas en Medellín 1.993," Cuadro Estadístico No. 18.
151 HRW/Americas interview, Corporación Región, Medellín, June 8, 1994.
152 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 11, 1994.
154 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
155 Teófilo's neighborhood was declared a "tolerance zone" for the sale of alcohol in 1957, an act which many residents say contributed to the initial increase in violence. Ibid.
157 HRW/Americas interviews, Medellín, June 8-13, 1994.
159 A new Medellín "social cleansing" squad began killing individuals believed to profit from the trade in stolen cars. Calling itself "Muerte a Jaladores de Carros" ("Death to Car Thieves-MAJACA), the squad announced itself to the press by making reference to the PEPES, the paramilitary group credited with helping hunt down Pablo Escobar: "Just as the `PEPES' finished off the Medellín Cartel, MAJACA will put an end to car thieves." By May, nineteen people had fallen victim to MAJACA, including several youths. "Majaca, los `Pepes' de los jaladores," El Tiempo, May 2, 1994.
160 HRW/Americas interview, Northwest comuna Communal Center, Medellín, June 12, 1994. For a history of Medellín gangs, see Diego Alejandro Bedoya Marín and Julio Jaramillo Martínez, De la barra a la banda (Medellín: Editorial El Propio Bolsillo, 1991).
161 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 11, 1994.
162 HRW/Americas visit, Medellín, June 13, 1994.
163 HRW/Americas interview, Northwest comuna Communal Center, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
166 He was convicted before the new Code for Minors was implemented, so was treated as an adult. Although there are some excellent juvenile detention facilities in Medellín, as in the capital, demand far outweighs supply and even child murderers can now be released within a matter of days because of a lack of space to hold them. HRW/Americas interview, ICBF-Medellín, Medellín, June 10, 1994.
167 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 11, 1994.
169 HRW/Americas interview, Northwest comuna Communal Center, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
171 This is also true in the Northeastern comuna, where police corruption is said to be widespread. HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
172 HRW/Americas interview, Northwestern comuna Communal Center, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
176 There are three groups of militias in Medellín. By far the largest are the Milicias del pueblo, y para el pueblo (Pro-People Militias), which claim they are independent. The Milicias del Valle de Aburrá (Valle de Aburrá militias) have ties to an ELN faction calling itself the Corriente de Renovación Socialista (Socialist Renewal Current-CRS). The milicias bolivarianas (Bolivarian militias) have ties to the FARC. HRW/Americas interviews, Medellín, June 11-12, 1994.
177 "Redada anti-milicias," la Prensa, February 9, 1994.
178 HRW/Americas interviews, Moravia, June 13, 1994.
180 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 11, 1994.
181 "Los vigilantes," Semana, April 9, 1991, p. 36.
182 HRW/Americas interview, Moravia, June 13, 1994.
183 "Los vigilantes," Semana.
185 We reported that militias committed the highest number of executions within the city of any single force in 1990. "Los vigilantes," Semana; and Americas Watch, Political Murder and Reform in Colombia: The Violence Continues (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1992), p. 84.
186 "Desarme Paisa," by Patricia Nieto, Cambio 16, February 14, 1994, p. 26.
187 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 13, 1994.
188 HRW/Americas interview, Moravia, June 13, 1994.
189 HRW/Americas interview, Corporación Región, Medellín, June 8, 1994.
190 HRW/Americas interview, Moravia, June 13, 1994.
191 HRW/Americas interview, Northwest comuna Communal Center, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
193 HRW/Americas interview, Moravia, June 13, 1994.
194 HRW/Americas interview, Bello Youth Network, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
195 For instance, residents of the Northeastern comuna claimed police were behind the killing of five people on November 7, 1992. The next day, three more died several blocks away. One other shooting, taking three lives, took place before November 15, when the massacre of youths took place in Villatina. Comisión Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz, Boletín, Vol 5, No. 4, October-December, 1992, pp. 50-51.
196 In 1992, the killing of police reached a record high in Medellín: 620. WOLA, "The Colombian National Police...", pp. 14, 17.
197 Ibid., p. 51.
198 Letter to Edith Márquez Rodríguez, Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, from the "Héctor Abad Gómez" Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, March 11, 1993.
200 HRW/Americas interview, Msgr. Héctor Fabio Henao, Medellín, June 8, 1994.
201 Amnesty International, "Colombia Children and minors: victims of political violence," June 1994, p. 9.
202 HRW/Americas interview, Msgr. Héctor Fabio Henao, Medellín, June 8, 1994.
204 Letter to Márquez.
205 In a strange twist, television journalists, also alerted by Villatina residents, were able to capture footage of the fleeing police.
207 HRW/Americas interview, Msgr. Héctor Fabio Henao, Medellín, June 8, 1994.
209 HRW/Americas interview, Sergio Estarita, Medellín personero, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
211 Ibid. The case is currently before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
212 The name "Los Porkys" comes from a Hollywood movie. The other names translate as "The Mexicans" and "The Bearded Ones."
213 HRW/Americas interview, "Héctor Abad Gómez" Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
214 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 11, 1994.
215 In 1994, the Consejería had a budget of over three billion pesos, about $375,000. HRW/Americas interview, Consejería para Medellín, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
216 HRW/Americas interview, Sister Trinidad Zapata, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
217 HRW/Americas interview, Barrio Antioquia, June 12, 1994; and "Tregua entre pandillas en Medellín," El Tiempo, February 4, 1994.
219 HRW/Americas interview, Sister Trinidad Zapata, Medellín, June 12, 1994.
220 HRW/Americas interview, Juan Guillermo Sepúlveda, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
221 "Despertar en la convivencia," El Mundo (Medellín), May 9, 1993; "`Hay que apoyar a los pacíficos'," El Tiempo, August 22, 1993; and "Bandas pactan acuerdo de no agresión en Itagüi," El Tiempo, April 1, 1994.
222 Bibiana Mercado and Orlando León Restrepo, "400 milicianos negocian la paz," El Tiempo, February 15, 1994; and by Bibiana Mercado and Orlando León Restrepo, "Desmovilización se cumpliría el 8 de marzo," El Tiempo, February 16, 1994.
223 Claudia Bedoya Madrid, "Los diálogos, a la recta final," El Tiempo, May 15, 1994; and Bibiana Mercado and Orlando León Restrepo, "Milicianos escogen la paz," El Tiempo, May 26, 1994.
224 Community police were legalized in 1994 by Decree 356. HRW/Americas interview, Juan Guillermo Sepúlveda, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
225 HRW/Americas interview, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
228 HRW/Americas interview, Iván Velásquez, Procurador, Medellín, June 9, 1994.
229 HRW/Americas interviews, Medellín, June 9-13, 1994.
230 Actualidad Colombiana (a publication of CINEP, the Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales Alternativos [ILSA], Colombia Hoy Informa), No. 157, July 7-22, 1994, p. 3.
231 "New Militia Group Operating in Medellín," Santafé de Bogotá Inravisión, August 18, 1994, in FBIS, August 22, 1994, p. 57.
232 "Asesinados diez jóvenes en Itagüi," El Tiempo, October 24, 1994; and "Cuatro retenidos por matanza en Itagüi," El Tiempo, October 25, 1994.
233 HRW/Americas interview, Instituto Popular de Capacitación, Medellín, June 11, 1994.