Antioquia Governor Antonio Roldán Betancur Killed

The governor’s vehicle had traveled 200 m from his home when the bomb was detonated. Photograph: Humberto Arango.

The authorities found the mechanism used to detonate the bomb close to where he died. Photograph: Humberto Arango.

At his funeral, President Virgilio Barco expressed that this was a brutal crime. Photograph El Mundo.

Governor of Antioquia Antonio Roldán Betancur died in the fire caused by the explosion of a car bomb detonated by members of the Medellín Cartel. Some versions state that the attack was a mistake and that it was meant for a police colonel.

At 7 am on July 4, 1989, the Governor of Antioquia Antonio Roldán Betancur died when a car bomb exploded, which the Medellín Cartel activated by remote control. It happened when he was driving through Florida Nueva neighborhood in Medellín to his office in La Alpujarra Administrative Center.

The Chevrolet Luv truck with the dynamite was parked closed to Atanasio Girardot stadium. The explosion blew the official vehicle off the road and into a post in a house’s front yard. Then it went up in flames, killing Roldán Betancur, aged 44.

While respect for life is not lost, it would be useless to talk about peace, friendliness and justice”, Antonio Roldán Betancur.

Another six people were killed because of the scale of the explosion: Three members of the governor’s security team, including Luis Eduardo Rivas Tobón and Luis Fernando Rivera Arango; the conservative councilman Rodrigo de Jesús Garcés Montoya, who was passing through the area; Alberto Moreno Saldarriaga, a young student traveling in the official vehicle; and Rigoberto Hernández, an employee of the Metropolitan Train.

Technology Used for War

After January 13, 1988, when a car bomb was detonated in front of the Mónaco Building, owned by Pablo Escobar, the terrorists’ techniques became more sophisticated. The mafia specialized in using large amounts of explosives and techniques that increased their destruction.

Some versions state that the killing of Roldán Betancur was a mistake because the attack was really meant for Colonel Valdemar Franklin Quintero, Commander of the Antioquia Police, assassinated a month later on August 18, 1989.

A Wave of Condemnation

The Governor of Antioquia was on his way to chair a security council where he would give a talk on the right to life and on the importance of achieving peace. However, the violence stopped him and it was others who realized the urgent need to end the violence.

At his funeral, held in Campos de Paz, President Virgilio Barco expressed that this was a brutal crime that must arouse everyone’s solidarity for the democratic values that “for so many years Colombians have worked for so diligently”.

A Son of Antioquia’s Urabá Region

Antonio Roldán Betancur studied medicine at the Universidad de Antioquia. He was the Manager of Corpourabá and Director of Coldeportes, where he worked to give better opportunities to Colombian sportspeople. He maintained a close relationship with Antioquia’s Urabá Region and was envied by the political leaders of this area, who saw how he became a loved and respected figure.

In his career, his work as a representative in the Assembly of Antioquia for the Liberal Party stands out. In exercise of his functions, he took into account sectors that had traditionally been forgotten.

This attack demonstrated that the drug traffickers had no limits and that in their war against the state and the other cartels, they would carry out any form of destruction.


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