3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Comuna 13 Medellin History

Without knowing the Comuna 13 Medellin history, you wouldn’t believe that this place was once one of the most notorious neighborhoods in Medellin. Today, it is considered safe to visit Medellin; in fact, you could even go on a walking tour of Comuna 13 to understand what happened and what caused the immense change. Before […]

Without knowing the Comuna 13 Medellin history, you wouldn’t believe that this place was once one of the most notorious neighborhoods in Medellin. Today, it is considered safe to visit Medellin; in fact, you could even go on a walking tour of Comuna 13 to understand what happened and what caused the immense change. Before you book one, here are a few things you ought to know about Comuna 13 Medellin history.

Pablo Escobar’s Connection to Comuna 13:

Violence in Comuna 13 started way before Pablo Escobar came into the picture. It started with the left-wing guerrillas. the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army. Escobar employed many of his dangerous killers from this barrio to manage his cocaine business. But it was after Escobar’s death that this place took a turn for the worst. From street gangs and leftist guerrillas to drug traffickers, everyone tried taking control of the area. Because the comuna is located on the hills makes, it difficult for police forces to spot criminals. In 2013, out of the 2,000 people who were killed in Medellin, 243 belonged to Comuna 13.

White Flags Saved Lives:

Comuna 13 became a hotbed for criminal activity thanks to its proximity to the San Juan highway which connects Medellin to northern Antioquia. Tired of the incessant violence, the Colombian government carried out Operation Orion to sweep out the rebels in and around the area. The entire siege lasted for four days and killed hundreds of people, including three children. To find medical help for the wounded, locals decided to wave white rags as a symbol of peace. It was with this act that the siege finally ended. Evidence of this can still be seen in some of the graffiti depicting elephants (because elephants never forget) waving white flags.

It Took Art, Music, and an Escalator to Transform this Barrio:

As Dave Dunlop from The Maritime Explorer notes, Comuna 13 is clean and well maintained – quiet unlike some of the other barrios in Medellin. But this wasn’t always the case. It took a collaborative community to change Comuna Medellin history. The government in 2011 installed a 6 minute 384-meter escalator to help residents get around. You’ll also find graffiti all around the barrio depicting life as it was earlier and how residents changed their neighborhood. This collective effort by local graffiti artists kept youngsters from violence and allowed them an outlet to express their views. Hip-hop music is another outlet for many locals.

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