The story of the drug in the heart of Bogotá, whose sale would leave the Mercado de Las Pulgas in limbo

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Since 1999, the associates of the Mercado de Las Pulgas sell their products every weekend in the seized lot. Photo: Alejandro Gómez Cívico

A tradition as much or more common than attending the Ciclovía is visiting the Mercado de Las Pulgas, San Alejo, in search of antiques and even collectibles. What some residents of Bogotá are unaware of is that the parking lot where the vendors of yesteryear set up tents to offer their products every Sunday, managed by the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá (Mambo) and with a process of extinction of dominance ‘not to end’ , it is a piece of land seized from a drug trafficker 22 years ago.

The lot referred to is the one on Carrera 7 and Calle 24, in the heart of Bogotá, diagonal to what for decades was the tallest building in the capital, Torre Colpatria. On its back it borders the Mambo. And in its 5,267 m2, it is possible to erect, with complete safety, a skyscraper just like the one that adjoins it, according to the president of the Special Assets Society (SAE), Andrés Ávila. This was stated to El Tiempo.

But what does the SAE have to do with it? It turns out that this company linked to the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit plans to sell it, for the millionaire sum that it can generate to the State. The lot, according to the Cadastre, is valued at $ 19,000, but recently it was valued at $ 55,942 million. Its value is even above that of the mansion of former drug trafficker Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha in La Cabrera, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Chapinero and Bogotá, which was sold to the Chinese Embassy for $ 49,839 million in 2017.

The idea of ​​selling the lot where the Las Pulgas market works, however, is not up to now. It has been around since it was seized, but legal obstacles have not allowed it. Its owner was Pedro Pablo Rayo Montaño, the drug lord of Buenaventura in the late 90’s and part of the feared Cali cartel, captured on September 15, 1998. Together with his brother, Pablo Joaquín Rayo, who was captured along with 40 drug traffickers during Operation Twin Oceans (Brazil, 2006), they became owners of three Panamanian islands.

Illustration of the Las Pulgas Market.  Taken from the Facebook page Mercado de Las Pulgas de San Alejo
Illustration of the Las Pulgas Market. Taken from the Facebook page Mercado de Las Pulgas de San Alejo

Since 1999, in addition to the property in front of the Colpatria Tower, the extinction of ownership of the family’s real estate and cars was ordered, as well as the shares of the ‘Clan Rayo’ in the companies Rapicambio Finanzas del Futuro, Comercializadora Isaura, Lavautos del Futuro, Rockefeller Drugstore, Raymond Automotive Parking, Orozco Rayo Asociados, Extrusiones del Valle, Inversiones Amigos del Pacífico, Rayo Manrique Asociados and Comercializadora Yoramo.

Already in 2011, when after a decade the 14th court of the Bogotá Specialized Circuit decreed the extinction of ownership and it could be alienated, the Superior Court of Bogotá returned this and the other properties to the Prosecutor’s Office, because the due was violated. process to the Rayo family: According to the ruling, the investigating body did not explain well enough the reasons why it considered it was proceeding to extinction Of domain.

Las Pulgas sellers, on edge

Now, when the Prosecutor’s Office is beginning the evidentiary stage of the process and the SAE announced its sale, there is another problem. A representative of the tenants of the Mercado de Las Pulgas – cultural heritage of Bogotá – asked to cancel the auction of the lot, because it puts the subsistence of those who have been associated since 1983 and, since 1999, have a contract in suspense —provisional—leasing to work in said parking lot.

Since 2002, the legal representative and operator of Parqueaderos del Futuro, which worked on the premises during the week, was the Mambo. And precisely the Mambo directives were the ones that at some point asked the District to buy the lot, but it was impossible. The request was joined by past local mayors, but it did not materialize.

What the SAE is currently looking for, despite the request to continue maintaining the lease with the members of the Las Pulgas Market, is to sell it. In fact, the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo learned that there are already two interested in buying the property of about $ 52,000 million, because it was made a reduction of almost 4,000 million compared to October last year, when it was also offered, although there were no offers.

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Ben Oakley
Ben Oakley is the guy you can really trust when it comes to Mainstream News. Whether it is something happening at the Wall Street of New York City or inside the White House in Washington, D.C., no one can cover mainstream news like Ben. Get a daily dose of Trustworthy News by Ben Oakley, only at Globe Live Media.