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Colombia to Protect Escobar Family Again

November 30, 1993| From Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — The government relented Monday and promised to renew protection for the family of fugitive drug lord Pablo Escobar, a day after the relatives tried and failed to find asylum abroad.

The family fears a clandestine paramilitary group that has been killing Escobar's associates. They left after the government canceled their guards.

On Monday evening Escobar's wife, Victoria, son, Juan Pablo, daughter, Manuela, and Juan Pablo's girlfriend arrived in Bogota on a Lufthansa jetliner that originated in Frankfurt, Germany, and stopped in Caracas, Venezuela. They were put aboard the plane after Germany refused them entry.

The relatives were permitted to deplane on the runway. A van surrounded by heavily armed security forces received them, passengers said.

The Colombian prosecutor general's office said Monday that it would stop protecting the Escobars.

But Interior Minister Fabio Villegas told reporters later in the day that "the government has a constitutional obligation to protect the life and property of all Colombian residents."

A senior aide to President Cesar Gaviria confirmed the interior minister's statement.

Escobar, who escaped from custody in July, 1992, heads the Medellin cocaine cartel and is one of the most wanted men in the world.

A clandestine paramilitary group called People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar has been murdering Escobar's associates and recently sprayed the apartment building where his family lives with gunfire.

The group is believed to be composed of members of the rival Cali drug cartel, former Medellin cartel members who had a falling out with Escobar and police avenging the deaths of officers slain by the Medellin cartel.

Prosecutor General Gustavo de Greiff had provided bodyguards for Escobar's relatives, which the drug lord demanded as a condition for his surrender. But because he did not give himself up, De Greiff told the family last week he would withdraw the bodyguards.

That prompted the family to leave the country.

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