A researcher with the National Center for Historical Memory (CDMH), a government-financed research group, has asked that Colombia’s victims of drug trafficking be recognized as conflict victims, according to El Tiempo newspaper.
Roberto Romero, who is a researcher with the group, made the comments in reference to the 25th anniversary of the downing of Avianca Flight 203 by the Medellin cartel in a failed attempt to kill presidential candidate Cesar Gaviria, leaving 109 passengers dead.
“All the victims of drugs, the 10,000 from 1983 until 2003, must be recognized and given reparations. They must receive both symbolic and material apologies. They cannot be second class victims,” Romero said.
Daniel Vargas, a member of the Colombia with Memory Foundation and whose father was killed in the attack, echoed Romero’s sentiments and emphasized that the state must also apologize and provide reparations.
“Reparations go beyond money,” he said. “It has to do with the state taking a serious attitude so that these things do not continue happening.”
Federico Arellano, son of singer Gerardo Arellano, who died in the plane’s downing, has been fighting to uncover all of the details of the bombing of Flight 203, claiming the responsibility extends beyond just Pablo Escobar.
“The state and private sectors are also implicated,” he told Blue Radio.
Last year, Arellano, a human rights lawyer, won a legal case which granted him reparations from the state for the death of his father.
The Director of the Victims Unit, Paula Gaviria, however, insisted that the ruling did not mean that every one of Escobar’s victims would now be given reparations.
It is unclear exactly how many people were killed by Escobar and his Medellin Cartel, though most estimates suggest more than 10,000. For each person killed, there are countless more victims in the form of family members of the deceased, as well as those who were threatened or intimidated by the cartel.