Photographer's Note

Medellín - Pablo the killer

The city of Medellín will undoubtedly by many recall the name of Pablo Escobar.
In the recent history this drug lord has had an enormous and extremely negative impact on the city.

Today in Medellín you make a Pablo Escobar tour.
During a few hours you’re taken to different places in town that are associated with him, such as the building where he lived, the rooftop where he was shot in 1993, apartment blocks he has built and the cemetery where he’s buried.

None of these places are spectacular or even beautiful. But the amount of information you get, is worth the money for the tour.

This was the second time I joined a group in Medellín . The guide and the driver of the van were very young Colombians who recounted in perfect English the life of the drug baron with testimonies of old newspaper clippings and photographs.
Such a tour is very interesting but again, not for the sights but for the information.

It surely gave me a different perspective on this man.
Before my journey to Colombia I had heard that Pablo Escobar was a controversial figure who had also done well for the poor. It seemed a bit of a Colombian Robin Hood.

However, this must be strongly nuanced. It’s true that he gave homes to the poor. He built hundreds of new homes in Medellín and gave them to the inhabitants of the slums. This provided him great popularity.
But his only reason for doing so was to bind these people to him. After all, he needed people who would protect him when in need.

Born in a middle class family, he never knew poverty. As of early age he had only one dream: to become filthy rich. He succeeded.
At a certain moment Escobar earned about $ 60 million a day. The business magazine Forbes called him the eighth richest man in the world. That was the time when his Medellín Cartel organized 80 % of the world trade of cocaine.

A hero to some, but a ruthless killer for many.
It is estimated that he was directly responsible for 8.000 murders. Several judges and politicians have been killed by his cartel.

In 1989 Pablo Escobar had placed a bomb on a passenger flight. The intention was to kill a Colombian politician. The bomb exploded in the plane and 110 persons have been killed. (Afterwards the politician did not appear to be on board. Later he even became president).

Pablo Escobar was buried on one of the most expensive and well-kept cemeteries of Medellin.
Every day there are flowers on his grave. Of course many relatives of him are still living.

For the avoidance of doubt, it’s not certain at all that the two Colombian ladies at his grave on the picture are admirers of him. Possibly they just wanted to visit this grave and take a picture just as everyone in our group has done.

In the workshop a picture of a painting of Fernando Botero that you can see in the Museo de Antioquia in Medellín.
In pure Botero-style it depicts Pablo Escobar when he was shot by the police on the roof of his refuge.

Information from The Rough Guide to Colombia, from Wikipedia and from the tour I joined in Medellín.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4257 W: 17 N: 9964] (41058)
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