18/01/1988
Kidnapping of Bogotá Mayor Candidate Andrés Pastrana

After the kidnapping, his supporters gathered there to express their solidarity and to reject the crime. Photograph: El Mundo.

After being rescued, Pastrana was taken to Bogotá, where he was reunited with his family. Photograph: Miguel Calderón.

The candidate to be Mayor of Bogotá, Andrés Pastrana, was kidnapped by The Extraditables as a way of pressuring the government to remove the Extradition Treaty. He was rescued in the search for Inspector General Carlos Mauro Hoyos, who was kidnapped the same day.

On January 18, 1988, in the evening, a group of ten people armed with machine guns burst into the political office of the candidate to be Mayor of Bogotá, Andrés Pastrana Arango, in the Colombian capital.

“Aged 33, Andrés Pastrana, the son of the former President of Colombia, Misael Pastrana Borrero, had become the favorite candidate to be Mayor of Bogotá.”

Four men distracted the politician’s bodyguards, who were outside the building, pretending to rob a vehicle. The other six entered the candidate’s office and identified themselves as members of the M-19 guerilla movement. Then they handcuffed him and took him away with the aim to send a message to President Virgilio Barco about the extradition of Colombian criminals to the USA.

Confused Versions

Initially, public opinion attributed the responsibility of the crime to the M-19. However, on January 24, The Extraditables confirmed they were responsible and sent a letter in which they said the Pabón Jatter brothers’ command was in charge of the operation. They also stated that they did not reclaim the fact from the start because there was a pact that the family broke.

They published a list of mediators for his release in the letter and they said that they would only negotiate if a television program was broadcast with opinions of different Colombians who were against extradition.

The kidnappers contacted radio stations on several occasions to reiterate their commitment to return him safe and sound as soon as possible. On January 20, after midnight, Pastrana called his family and told them that he had been treated very well, that he had not suffered and on the contrary, he had access to a television, several books and a newspaper.

In the Medellín Cartel’s Area of Influence

After being abducted from his office, Pastrana -who years later would become President of Colombia- was transported in a vehicle to the house of one of the bosses of the Bogotá Cartel. Then the kidnappers abandoned the car in La Soledad neighborhood.

They always told me that if they were going to kill me they would have done it when they entered my office.” Andrés Pastrana.

The next day, they took him by helicopter to La Fresera country house in the municipality of El Retiro. Pablo Escobar went there to confirm his opposition to the Extradition Treaty.

“We talked from midnight to six in the morning. About the extradition and the mafia, as they had just bombed the Mónaco Building. Escobar told me how they almost killed his wife and children. We talked about everything; about how he took drugs to the USA and how they managed the business,” Andrés Pastrana told El Espectador on January 20, 2018.

The Release

On January 25, the authorities found Pastrana, directed by some neighbors who had reported suspicious activity at La Fresera. All of this occurred as part of the search operation for the Inspector General of Colombia Carlos Mauro Hoyos, kidnapped the same day on the road to José María Córdova Airport.

“They (the kidnappers) did not know whether to open or close my cell. Then one entered with a machine gun and two rifles and said to me: ‘Shout that you are Andrés Pastrana because the police are here’,” Pastrana told El Colombiano on January 25, 1988.

Threatening the prisoner, one of the captors said that they would release him if someone stayed as a hostage for a couple of hours. Police officer Roberto de Jesús Zapata Carmona did not hesitate and offered to be the hostage. So one of the captors handcuffed him and fled with him in a vehicle. On the way, the car broke down and the driver released him.

The kidnapping of Andrés Pastrana Arango was part of a plan by The Extraditables to hold hostage important figures in Colombia as a way of pressuring to ban extradition to the USA. One of the victims of this relentless war was Inspector General Carlos Mauro Hoyos.

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