By France 24

When you picture a kidnapper, you might think of someone with nefarious purposes: someone who works for a shadow organization, perhaps, who operates outside of the law and must be held criminally responsible for their misdeeds.

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The government of a major Latin American country might not immediately fit your definition. Yet the Cabinet of President Gaviria abandoned the rule of law today and became a kidnapper when it participated in the abduction of notorious cartel leader Pablo Escobar’s mother. By paying three million dollars to a corrupt police officer and holding her indefinitely, the government of President Gaviria is indulging in the very practices it aims to eradicate.

Nearly all in the committee voted in favor of the bribe yet few recognized the irony of their participation, with discussion immediately turning to how best to interrogate Escobar’s mother. “Just the very fact that she’s in here is enough to make Escobar go wild,” the Leader of the Search bloc stated almost triumphantly, declaring that he was against waterboarding yet still pressing the committee to decide on the best way to interrogate their prisoner.

The fact that torture has even become a topic of conversation in the cabinet demonstrates how wildly the committee has strayed from its mandate. President Gaviria was elected in order to transition Colombia into an era of peace and prosperity. How can he be trusted when his cabinet engages in the very policies that destabilized the country in the first place?

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The cabinet’s refusal to acknowledge their illicit activity seems to stem in part from a desire to protect themselves from harm, which further demonstrates an astonishing level of ignorance and selfishness. Noted journalist and social activist Virginia Vallejo stood firm against the idea of torturing Escobar’s mother—yet only because it could potentially endanger the committee’s own physical safety should Escobar choose to retaliate.

While one would expect Vallejo to stand firm against corruption and unjust incarceration, given her investigations into government corruption and collusion, she was no better than her peers and voted almost gleefully to pay the three million.

The way forward is clear: the Colombian government must immediately release Escobar’s mother and apologize for its multimillion-dollar payment. The money used to engage in this kidnapping could have gone to providing social services to the least privileged of Colombian citizens, or to investigating the recent bomb scandal that endangered the lives of Colombian citizens and has yet to be resolved.

If the government works to apologize and atone for its participation in this abduction, it may still be able to salvage its reputation and its mandate to govern. But if it does not, the Cabinet of President Gaviria may just prove itself to be nothing more than a mirror image of Pablo Escobar.