16/12/1996
Bomb at Home of Former Governor Juan Gómez Martínez

As well as damage to nearby buildings, five vehicles and a police post were destroyed by the explosion of the car bomb. Photograph: El Mundo.

A car bomb was detonated in front of the home of former Governor of Antioquia and former Mayor of Medellín, Juan Gómez Martínez, in Medellín. The attack left one mortality, tens of injured people and countless material damage.

On December 16, 1996, at 5:30 am, a car loaded with around 100 kg of dynamite and a large amount of shrapnel exploded in front of the home of Juan Gómez Martínez,who had been Governor of Antioquia, Mayor of Medellín and editor in chief of El Colombiano newspaper.

In the early morning, four men and one woman arrived at La Loma de Los Parra in El Poblado neighborhood, Medellín, with the aim to detonate the vehicle in front of the house. However, when the police officer Ismael Caballero, responsible for guarding the house, noticed them, he fired to prevent the criminals from advancing. They decided to leave the car bomb a few meters from the place and fled in a taxi that was waiting for them.

Painful Consequences

Once more, those affected by this terrorist attack were civilians who had nothing to do with the crime, Mrs. Lucía Ceballos, aged 60, who was the politician’s neighbor, was killed by the explosion inside her home. Her husband, Javier Bernal, was one of the 48 people injured.

They were seconds of great impact. The ground, the house, everything shook, and then everything started to fall down around me; the ceiling, the walls, the doors; nothing remained in its place.”Ana Teresa Gómez.

Juan Gómez Martínez was out at the time of the explosion. However, his children, Ana Teresa and Juan Camilo, were in the house, and his son suffered significant injuries to his eyes and hands. “We don’t want our house to be blown up with a car bomb again. I saw my eldest child in the clinic with his eyes bandaged, a paralyzed hand due to ruptured tendons, and cuts all over his body. We don’t want to be informed another time that our neighbor died blown to pieces by a bomb and that her husband was blinded,” said Juan Gómez Martínez.

Consequences of a War

The Explosion left countless material damage estimated to be around COP 2 billion. Five vehicles and two motorbikes were half destroyed. The residential buildings Combeima, Montecarlo Real and Piedecuesta were also affected. The explosion caused damage to buildings located three blocks away on Avenida El Poblado, including Caja Social, Rincón de Castilla, Prados del Este, Corfin, Banco Central Hipotecario, Sudameris, Tempo and Conavi.

To Silence the Press

Ana Mercedes Gómez, editor in chief of El Colombiano and sister of the former governor, said that she had received several phone calls before the attack demanding that she keep quiet on topics such as eminent domain, extradition and the increase of sentences, which were being debated at the time in Colombian Congress.

Despite the fact that Juan Gómez Martínez was not part of the legislative branch at the time and was not directly connected to this media agency, he believes that they attacked him for being one of the most prominent politicians in Medellín. This attack generated anguish and commotion among citizens, who feared the return of the terrorism that had left hundreds of victims between the eighties and nineties.

An End to the Violence

One of the most controversial decisions that Juan Gómez Martínez made years ago, as Mayor of Medellín during the years of narcoterrorism, was the issue of Decree 580/1989, which “imposed a curfew on the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Medellín”. This was with the aim to protect citizens’ lives during the escalation of violence, which was at its most critical point on August 18 that year with the assassination of Police Colonel Valdemar Franklin and presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán.

This measure, which angered members of the drug cartels, restricted the circulation of citizens between 10 pm and 6 am. The city was constantly guarded by soldiers and police officers. Commerce, industry and people felt intimidated in an atmosphere of general unease.

But when least expected, Pablo Escobar responded and on August 31, 1989, he exploded a powerful bomb in front of the Pintuco Warehouses, injuring fifteen people.

Share

Related stories