Rodrigo Lara Bonilla

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Rodrigo Lara Bonilla
Colombian Minister of Justice
In office
August 7, 1983 – April 30, 1984
President Belisario Betancur Cuartas
Preceded by Bernardo Gaitán Mahecha
Succeeded by Enrique Parejo González
Personal details
Born (1946-08-11)August 11, 1946
Neiva, Huila, Colombia
Died April 30, 1984(1984-04-30) (aged 37)
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party New Liberalism
Spouse(s) Mary Nancy Restrepo (1974-1984)
Children Rodrigo Lara Sánchez
Rodrigo Lara Restrepo
Jorge Andrés Lara Restrepo
Paulo José Lara Restrepo
Alma mater Universidad Externado de Colombia
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Lara and the second or maternal family name is Bonilla.

Rodrigo Lara Bonilla (August 11, 1946 - April 30, 1984) was a Colombian lawyer and politician, who served as Minister of Justice under President Belisario Betancur, and was assassinated by orders of Pablo Escobar because of his work as Minister in prosecuting cocaine traffickers mainly belonging to the Medellín Cartel.[1]

Lara's death led to Escobar's indictment for murder and a long running controversy over extradition in Colombia that would ultimately cost thousands of lives.


Born in Neiva, capital of the department of Huila, he studied law at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. Years later he joined the Liberal Revolutionary Movement party, founded and led by former Liberal president Alfonso Lopez Michelsen. In 1969, when he was only 23 years old, Lara was appointed mayor of his hometown. Exerted diplomatic posts in Paris, to return to their country and have a rising political career and was elected councilor, MP, House Representative and Senator of the Republic.

Minister of Justice[edit]

In August 1983, Lara, who belonged to the New Liberalism created through him and Luis Carlos Galan, was appointed by President Belisario Betancur as Minister of Justice, replacing Bernardo Gaitán Mahecha. Lara Bonilla, together with Galan, publicly denounced the drug cartels, especially in Medellin, where the cartel was led by Pablo Escobar. When Escobar was elected to the Congress, Lara denounced him, citing his connection to drug cartels. In addition, Lara Bonilla also exposed Escobar and the cartel for influencing politics and sports through corruption. This triggered a trap set by some politicians, drug dealers and journalists who were threatened by the explosive growth of Lara Bonilla in government and especially in the fight against drug trafficking. Jairo Ortega, Escobar's ally in Congress, presented a check (eventually shown to be falsified) to the chamber, supposedly drawn by known drug trafficker Evaristo Porras. This, in addition to a recorded conversation between Lara Bonilla and Porras, caused many to question Lara Bonilla's legitimacy. President Betancur, however, dismissed the allegations and retained Lara Bonilla in office.

After the link between Lara Bonilla and the drug cartels was discredited, the government began uncovering the shadowy dealings of the Medellin cartel, specifically Pablo Escobar. Escobar was expelled from the Congress and his U.S. visa cancelled. The Minister went further, reviving criminal charges against Escobar and other drug lords, such as Carlos Lehder. Lara Bonilla also ordered the seizure of hundreds of planes and properties that were allegedly used for the production and distribution of hallucinogenic substances. While Congress debated approving an extradition treaty with the United States, Escobar and his allies now sought to solve their problems by physically eliminating Lara Bonilla.


Only eight months after taking the Ministry of Justice, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla dies gunned down in his car on the night of April 30, 1984 at 127 Street, north of Bogota, which later was named "Avenida Rodrigo Lara Bonilla" in his honor. The murder occurred at the hands of an assassin sent by Escobar with the name Ivan Dario Guisado in a motorcycle DT Yamaha 175 led by Byron Velazquez aka "quesito". Guisado was killed by the bodyguards of the minister, while Velasquez was captured by the police and spent more than 10 years in prison.


After the death of Lara Bonilla, the Betancur government immediately approved the extradition law, and began a war against the Mafia. Later, the murdered Colonel Jaime Ramirez, declare under oath, having heard the Minister on the danger to his life, as the owners of the aircraft were found in Tranquilandia very uncomfortable and feared that whatever happens on his life could come from the drug industry. In turn, Enrique Parejo González was appointed Minister of Justice instead of his copartisan Lara. In its management, Parejo directs a harsh attack against drug trafficking extradite three members of the Medellin Cartel to United States.[clarification needed]

In 2009 Rodrigo Lara Restrepo and the sons of the late Luis Carlos Galán announced to the media his forgiveness of Sebastian Marroquin (formerly Juan Pablo Escobar), son of the late Pablo Escobar who apologized for the damage done to the country in his two decades of narcoterrorism, as told in the film Sins of My Father.

Popular Culture[edit]

Rodrigo Lara Bonilla is portrayed by the Colombian actor Ernesto Benjumea in TV Series Escobar, el patrón del mal.

See also[edit]