Pablo Escobar

‘The World’s Greatest Outlaw’, Pablo Escobar, is one of the most notorious villains of all time. His image still casts a shadow over Colombia and even those unfamiliar with the country are likely to have heard of the man that reportedly ordered the murder of over 10,000 people and was once named the 7th richest man in the world by Forbes Magazine.

..........................................................................................................................................

=> If in Medellín, we let you decide whether or not you want to join the Pablo Escobar Tours.
..........................................................................................................................................

Escobar, first years in Jail

Escobar was born in Rionegro, a village not far from Medellín. His family were extremely poor, he and his brother Roberto once being sent home from school as they were unable to buy shoes. His criminal career began after being forced to leave university as he was unable to pay the fees required. He and his brother allegedly began by stealing gravestones and sanding them down for resale. This soon moved into street scams and other crimes, including selling contraband cigarettes, selling fake tickets for the lottery and stealing cars.
..........................................................................................................................................
=> Escobar became a millionaire at the age of just 22 working for smuggler Alvaro Prieto.
..........................................................................................................................................

The rise continued until he became head of the infamous Medellín Cartel, one of the biggest drug cartels in history. Reports vary, but the cartel could smuggle over 15 tons of cocaine a day and, according to Roberto, $2,500 was spent every month just on rubber bands to keep the money organized.

Escobar’s reputation grew immeasurably when infamous Medellín drug dealer Fabio Restrepo was murdered and all his works subsequently told they now worked for Escobar. This sent waves throughout the criminal (and every day) community and alerted them to the presence of Escobar once and for all.

As the demand for cocaine in the US grew, so did Escobar’s empire and Escobar and his brother were soon organizing distribution networks through Panama, Bahama and South Florida, among other areas in the US. Means of transportation included submarines.

..........................................................................................................................................

During the 1980s Escobar became known internationally. He was elected as a deputy representative in Colombia’s Congress as part of the country’s Liberal Party. At this point the cocaine provided was mostly from Peru and Bolivia and was exported to Central and North America, although it is alleged the network even reached Asia.

At his height Escobar and his Medellín Cartel controlled 80% of the global cocaine market and his personal wealth was estimated at US$25 billion. He owned planes, helicopters, expensive cars and even a mini-zoo.

Escobar President in Medellin

During his rise to power, Escobar’s tactics included a great deal of corruption and intimidation. He had learnt from an early age that the police were open to bribes, but as he became more powerful he developed the ‘plata o plomo’ policy (meaning ‘money or bullets’). This lead to the death of hundreds of civilians, policemen and state officials and served to cement Escobar’s reputation as a cold, ruthless killer as well as a drug lord.
..........................................................................................................................................

Escobar’s reputation as a villain was not, however, universal, and he worked hard to sculpt a ‘Robin Hood’ image. For many people in and around Medellín he was a heroic figure thanks to his contributions to vulnerable communities. He is credited with building schools, hospitals,football fields, churches and generally creating goodwill among these communities using his natural flair for public relations. This generated a great deal of loyalty among the local communities and, despite his reputation, his brother Roberto insists that Pablo relied more on calm negotiations and the relationships he had forged than violence. There were even fireworks in Medellín every time a narco shipment reached the US.

This allegation doesn’t sit so comfortably with the statistics coming out of the country, however. Colombia in the 80s and 90s was the world’s murder capital, reaching a peak of 27,100 violent deaths in 1992. Over 600 police officers were killed thanks to orders or incentives from Escobar.

..........................................................................................................................................

Mural Escobar

Escobar was finally killed in 1993 after a long period spent fleeing from US and Colombian authorities (including time spent in a specially prepared jail wherein Escobar lived extremely comfortably thanks to his level of influence). His demise came thanks to a successful plot from the US government to intercept phone calls and he was found in a middle class barrio in Medellín, where he was shot and killed.
..........................................................................................................................................

Today Escobar’s legacy is still felt throughout the displaced communities in Colombia that have suffered tremendously during the reign of the drug cartels. Nonetheless, the country strives to put the episode firmly in the past and it’s now even possible to take Pablo Escobar tours in Medellín.

=> For an insight into the Colombian struggle during this time, check out our Colombian cinema pages with films about Medellin and the influence of the villain on the city: Rosario Tijeras, The Lady of the Assassins.

=> For more Colombian History, check Modern Colombian History.

..........................................................................................................................................

Leave your comments

0

Comments

  • No comments found

Did you know?

According to the New Economic Foundation studies, Colombia has the second happiest population of the World.

Search for the Best Hotels in Colombia

Check-in Date

Check-out Date

You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials