Sixty four years ago today, and more or less to the minute, popular Liberal leader and presidential-hopeful Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated outside his offices by a lone gunman.

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The killing sparked several days of violent rioting in Bogotá that would eventually embroil the whole country.

Decades of internal conflict ensued. This began with a period of vicious, mostly rural fighting between various factions known as La Violencia that simmered down into prolonged, low-level asymmetric warfare that continues to this day.

The latter period spawned left-wing guerilla movements familiar to the outside world such as the FARC and ELN, as well as right-wing death squads and paramilitaries.

The toll exerted on the country by both non-state actors such as these, as well as by brutally unrestrained government forces, is hard to overstate. Thousands of innocent civilians have been massacred and millions displaced.

Amazing what one man with a gun can achieve.

These two sites have a decent overview of the significance of today’s anniversary: [1] and [2].

UPDATE

The team at SeeColombia.travel also covered this well – check out their article reflecting on the Bogotazo.

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