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Back from the brink: visiting Medellin 20 years later

Felipe Jaramillo's picture

También disponible en español

Medellin

Rewind 20 years. Medellin, Colombia, is the murder capital of the world, with over 300 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Pablo Escobar and his drug trafficking cronies are the heroes of the comunas -- the hillside low-income barrios that oversee the skyscrapers of the modern downtown. Shootings, kidnappings and rampant lawlessness are the stuff of daily headlines. Teenage boys in the comunas want to be Escobar henchmen, quick with the gun and fast with the girls. And after Escobar was killed in a graphic shootout with police in 1994, they dream of becoming paramilitary ‘rambos’, inspired by the violent squads that plagued the countryside since the mid-1990s.