Infamous Drug City Is Reborn

<p>Medellín, Colombia, has escaped from the bloody grips of the violent drug warfare that consumed its streets in the 1980s to become a vibrant and active city.</p>
August 16, 2007, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"During the 1980s, Medellín, Colombia's second largest city, was home to the drug lord Pablo Escobar, whose infamous cartel turned the city into a bloody battleground and the world's cocaine capital. Gangs roamed the narrow streets, extortionists preyed on the city's residents and narcotics traffickers staged attacks against the police."

"But in the last decade, this city of two million, with its beautiful colonial architecture and year-round springlike weather, has awakened from its drug nightmare. Escobar and his minions are gone and the cocaine trade has been largely dispersed. Bullet-riddled neighborhoods are coming to life with art museums and well-designed parks. And the constant rumble of construction - new shopping malls, flashy casinos and luxury hotels - can be heard throughout the city."

"The renaissance is most noticeable in Santo Domingo Savio, a once-impenetrable slum of tin-roofed shanties on a hillside in northern Medellín. Though pockets are still marred by a dilapidated jumble of crumbling cinder blocks and concrete stairs, it is now home to paved roads, colorful murals and the gleaming new Parque Biblioteca España. The hulking opal structure has a library, an auditorium, computer rooms, a day-care center and an art gallery."

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Published on Thursday, August 16, 2007 in International Herald Tribune
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