From: #flymeto | Jul 26, 2019
This year it will be 24 years since the killing of Pablo Escobar, the most powerful narcobaron in human history. He was born and died in Medellin, Colombia, and in the 1980s he managed a drug empire that has no competition in the field of organized crime. To his beloved city he made such an advertisement that everyone preferred to avoid it in an arc. Tourists above all. And they had why. With 9,363 murders per year, Medellín was one of the most dangerous cities in the world in the early 1990s.
Considering that it has half the population more than in Prague, the comparison is a deterrent - for one murdered in our capital there were 234 murdered in Medellin. Behind the armed attacks and violence in the streets were the narcos and their struggles with security forces or competing drug cartels. The gunfights were a daily routine, and the lives of civilians were definitely not taken into account. To make matters worse, thousands of refugees were sought refuge in Medellin, which the Marxist FARC guerrillas had driven out of their homes. But the death of Escobar changed everything.
In the last 20 years, the number of murders has fallen by 60% and the city boasts the lowest crime rate in Colombia. How did it happen? The hard work of the Medellin police has been rewarded - encouraging reports have attracted major investments that the city has invested in the development of public transport. Using cable cars to connect the remote parts of the city to the center and limited the power of criminal gangs in dangerous comunas. But Medellin does not forget the dark past. He carries tourists and fans of the Narcos movie series around places associated with the most feared drug boss of all time.
A theme park has been built in Escobar’s backyard
About 150 km east of Medellin, one of the richest men on the planet built the pompous hacienda Nápolés. In addition to a spectacular house, he had swimming pools, a private airport, a racetrack and even a zoo with elephants and other exotic animals built on 20 square kilometers. And just as in the office of a successful businessman you will find his first earned shilling, the narcobaron has exhibited something that symbolizes his first great success. A replica of the Piper PA-18 Super Cub above the gateway reminds us of the first shipment of cocaine to the US.
After Escobar's death, the real estate fell into disrepair for a while, and the house and every inch of land were turned thousands of times by Escobar's money seekers. Hippos escaped, feral and spread from the surrounding lakes into rivers, and their attacks began to spice up peaceful meditation by local fishermen. In 2006 ownership of the property passed to the Colombian government, which 8 years later rented it to a private company. In the area, there is the amusement park Parque Tematico Hacienda Napoles . The remaining animals and statues of dinosaurs from the time of Escobar were left with water attractions, a safari, an aquarium and copies of caves from the Colombian Cueva de los Guácharos National Park. The ruins of Escobar's mansion, including a desolate collection of luxury cars, are nearby and are still freely accessible.
See how hacienda looks now and how in Escobar times:
Four Star Prison with View (made by Pablo)
The second luxurious housing with which the dreaded head of the Medellin cartel is linked is also outside the city. We are talking about La Catedral prison, where Escobar planned to enjoy his absurd punishment. That was so - after winning the heart of the poor people of the city by generous deeds, Escobar tried to enter politics personally, not just through his perfectly functioning method of “Plato for Plomo”. “Silver or lead” meant that the officials and the executive could choose whether to favor a bribe or a bullet. The backstage of politics jumped as Escobar pulled the strings, but the Mafia boss still needed to be publicly accepted.
He therefore ran for the Senate from which he was expelled for his real cocaine business. The vicious Escobar decided to show what it was like to claim respect for evil, and the bloody terror began. But as soon as he laid down the face of the generous patron, he had to flee the law. And he didn’t like that. Violence against Medellin and its citizens has therefore escalated to the extent that it has forced the government to negotiate. It will only end the destruction of the city and its lives if it fulfills its conditions. He then mercifully allowed the government to declare that it had finally fallen, and he was sentenced to imprisonment for symbolic five years. He mentioned that he would not take it off in a standard facility - he would build his own and install the guards himself.
He built his prison in the mountains at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level with a breathtaking view of the beloved Medellin. He recalled it with a billiard room, a small casino, a football field and an escape tunnel. He settled there with a bunch of henchmen, cheerfully welcomed visitors, held parties, and did not limit his stay behind bars - on the contrary, he protected him from the assassinations of competing cartels. The idyll ended when he continued to lead his cocaine gold mine from prison and, moreover, tortured and murdered several of his co-workers within 13 months between his walls. The government could no longer close his eyes to his crimes, and Escobar was forced to escape from his own prison.
See what it looked like:
Since 2007, monks have been living here, trying to cleanse the fluid of the place with good deeds. They have a library, a chapel, a monument to Escobar’s victims, and the door is open to disabled people who lack the resources to live and treat.
Killed on your own birthday
In the unobtrusive two-story house the drug baron was hiding the last days of his life. Do you know how mothers put your heart on you to say to your family at all times if you’re all right? Don’t do this if you’ve been running for 15 months and your $ 5 million reward is on your head. Police noticed a suspicious number of calls from Los Olivos. It was December 2, 1993, and Pablo celebrated his 44th birthday. He also wanted to share his day with his family, but accidentally intercepted a phone call, but the security forces located his hiding place and surrounded him. Escobar fled through the window to the roof where he was killed. There is still speculation about who fired a fatal bullet. The official version says it was Colombian police. According to another version, it fired a sniper special unit Delta Force. And those who wished for Pablo a dignified end, including his brothers and his son, believe he shot himself.
However it may have been, photographs that confirmed the end of a long-time hunt for an “invulnerable” criminal immediately circled the world. The winning crew posing proudly with their trophy - the limp body of a pudgy man with a bared navel. “But was he really?” The same people ask, who have never reconciled to the death of Elvis, hoping both kings live incognito in seclusion or on Mars. And the world shrugs, because in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s land, reality still has somewhat magical qualities. Bet that anything can happen here. Really bet - the house in question has a house number of 45-94. In this city, it is believed that while Escobar has not brought these numbers of happiness, it will pay off to someone else. The lottery is said to fight for them.
Last rest in a flood of flowers
In the Itagüí cemetery, you will find a place in the shade of palm trees where the narcobaron is resting alongside his family and Citron, the last bodyguard who has been faithful to him to the end. It is said that the tomb is constantly lined with fresh flowers and you will normally find grieving citizens here. Escobar still has a number of followers in the city who see in his face the most powerful mafioso only the noble features of Robin Hood. Pablo took the rich and cocaine-dependent grings - and the poor, the Americans exploited the Colombians. He built a large quarter of red-brick houses in which the poorest residents did not have to pay rent or fees. He built several hospitals, churches and parks and arranged a new playground for his favorite sports team.
But the guides who follow his footsteps in Medellin add a much more impressive list of his brutal deeds. When Escobar discovered that despite his serious conduct and bribes, the government did not want him in politics, he instructed the city to feel his rage. In the late 1980s, he unleashed hell in Medellin, including street bombings, airliner explosions, and the murder of politicians, including the presidential candidate. All in all, his terror cost about 4,000 lives, and no one counts the victims of cocaine addiction.
Where do Pablo’s tracks lead?
Now in Medellin you don't have to worry about your cameras or your bare lives. Follow the footsteps of Pablo Escobar with one of the adventure offices. Guided tours last several hours and all day, depending on whether they take place only in the city or outside. One of the agencies offers a very bizarre and contradictory superstructure for an additional fee - you can meet Escobar's brother during the tour. Roberto shakes hands with you, takes a picture and talks. The former accountant of the Medellin cartel, who was responsible for the distribution of cocaine, and whose head has been awarded several million dollars, is said to undergo all the money earned from examining the account of HIV-positive fellow citizens. How is it possible that such a person is at large, and can give a good deal of tales about his brother between Netflix's suing for a billion dollars?
Many Colombians and Medellins are offended by tourists’ interest in Escobara. They did not ask that enthusiastic crowds in T-shirts with a portrait of their hated mascot be produced in front of the survivors of all Escobar’s victims. For them, a macho with a mustache is still an open wound. The question posed by the families of the victims is: “Does the tabloid hype and the series make the greatest drug smuggler a hero?” Most tour operators oppose. In the footsteps of narcobaron, they do not emanate from persistent sympathy, but so that their horror may never be forgotten and the nation will overcome the stigma left by the cocaine king. Among the guides you can often find former police officers who were in active service in the 1980s. Each tour reminds us of the importance of learning from past mistakes to prevent future ones.
Holgs, Jcarillet, Joel Carillet, Holgs | istockphoto.com