Sebastián, the tour organizer, has told us to meet in front of Candelaria’s Church. Since we arrive a little early we sit a few minutes inside, then outside we meet Steve from Idaho and Suhail from Toronto. Sebatián soon arrives and leads the four of us through Centro, explaining the cultural center, Botero Plaza and the museum in the context of what it was like 25+ years ago when the county was at war between the drug lords, the paramilitary and the government.
Comuna 13 was once considered the most dangerous community in the world based upon murder rates. Residents were poor and the area had no real transportation or education. Drug trade, guerrilla, paramilitary, and gangs were the business of the area. Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel played a heavy hand. In 2002 the government conducted an operation with 1,000 soldiers to try to overthrow the Cartel, with many residents caught between the two. Many people were injured or killed. The residents put up white flags to indicate a stop to the fighting.