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Dominican Embassy Siege
Part of Colombian armed conflict
DateFebruary 27 - April 27, 1980
LocationColombia Bogotá, Colombia
Result Release of all hostages, captors fleeing to Cuba
Government of Colombia
Colombian army
19th of April Movement

The Dominican Embassy siege was the 1980 siege of the embassy of the Dominican Republic by M-19 guerrillas in Bogotá, Colombia. The guerrillas held nearly 60 people, including 14 ambassadors, hostage for 61 days.

The Siege

The siege began on the mid-day of February 27, 1980, when seventeen guerrillas dressed in the warm-up clothes of joggers stormed the embassy compound, located in a suburb of Bogotá. Many diplomats were attending a diplomatic reception celebrating the Dominican Independence Day and consequently were taken hostage. The guerrillas, wielding grenades, AK-47's, and Rosemberg Pabón held a Browning 9MM as support to control the situation, wounded five people in the storming of the embassy. A 17-year-old guerrilla was killed initially by the police.

The hostages included the Papal nuncio to Colombia, Angelo Acerbi, as well as the ambassadors from fourteen countries: Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Israel, Mexico, Switzerland, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Also among the hostages were diplomats from Bolivia, Jamaica, Paraguay and Peru, and Colombian civilians and workers at the embassy.

The gunmen demanded US$50 million, to be raised from the countries whose diplomats were held hostage. They also sought the release of 311 jailed comrades. Their leader, who called himself "Commandante Uno," was later identified as Rosemberg Pabón.

Colombian authorities began negotiating with the guerrillas after they threatened to kill the hostages. On February 28, eighteen people, including the Costa Rican ambassador and fourteen other women, were freed by the hostage takers. Five more women were released on February 29. Negotiations gained the release of four cooks and a waiter on March 2.

The Austrian ambassador was freed on March 7 out of consideration for his wife, who was in hospital at the time. On March 8, the guerrillas reduced their demands to free 311 prisoners to seventy and lowered the amount of money requested to US$10 million. Early on March 17, the Uruguayan ambassador, Fernando Gomez Fyns, escaped from the embassy by jumping from a window and running to troops surrounding the compound. The same day, Fidel Castro offered the guerrillas asylum in Cuba.

From March 30 to April 19, the guerrillas released the Costa Rican consul and all of the remaining non-diplomatic hostages. They requested a meeting in Panama with Colombian leaders to resolve the crisis, but were denied by the Colombian government. Their demand for the release of a dozen prisoners was denied, though they were paid US$2.5 million in ransom money.

On April 27, the ambassadors from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Israel, and Egypt were released by the hostage takers, along with two Colombians. The sixteen guerrillas left the embassy with the remaining twelve diplomatic hostages and boarded a Cubana Airlines flight to Cuba. They were cheered by many Colombians waiting for them at the airport. They flew to Havana, where the diplomats were released and returned to their home countries.


The leader of the M-19 group, Rosemberg Pabón, promised to return to Colombia. After living in exile in Cuba, he eventually returned to Colombia after M-19 signed a peace treaty with the government in March 1990. The M-19 group had been considerably weakened after seizing the Colombian Palace of Justice in November 1985, which left dozens dead.


Further reading

Coordinates: 4°35′53″N 74°04′33″W / 4.5981°N 74.0758°W / 4.5981; -74.0758

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