Mompos, Medellin and Pablo Escobar.

Dear friends, be happy: here is in fact a new episode of Dekaro Diary! This time I’ll talk about Mompos, Medellin and Pablo Escobar, one of the most famous drug dealer of all time, head of the Medellin cartel. I also personally met his nephew, Nicolas.

More or less half way between Cartagena and Medellin, there is Mompos , a city that, as Villa de Leyva, seems to have stopped in time. This is probably because it was always a bit isolated. In fact it is difficult to reach, and at some point there is also a stretch of river to do by speedboat.

 

It is the city where is set “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” by Marquez.

 

A square at dusk.

 

Colored chicks for sale.

 

Procession of Palm Sunday.

 

Woman with donkey.

 

One night, in bars around a square, I met Javier, left, with whom I had a few beers. Then I met this gentleman on the right, but it was a bit weird.

 

Indeed, very strange.

 

But basically nice, here is about to smile!

 

The speedboat for the stretch of river from Magangué in Bodega.

 

Guys in Magangué.

 

Medellin is located in a valley surrounded by hills full of houses. Arriving at night it feels like to be wrapped in hundreds of thousands of little lights.
From a metro station there is a cableway that goes up one of these hills.

 

Inside the cableway, which runs just above one of the many neighborhoods.

 

These districts are composed almost entirely of bare brick houses.

 

Posters on the houses.

 

MedellinInside the little streets.

 

Little square.

 

Murals.

 

Football field.

 


Also in Medellin, to my astonishment, I found the “Pablo Escobar Tour” , a tour where you visit the sites linked to the history of Escobar, up to his house, where you can meet his brother or his nephew.
We visited various places, including his tomb.

Let me give you a very quick summary of his tragic life because, in addition to fascinating, is an integral part of Colombian history.
Small drug dealer in South America, was the first to export cocaine to the U.S. in the 70s when this drug, although already classified as illegal, was virtually ignored by the police and the security of airports.
Becomes in a few years, the 7 richest man in the world, giving meanwhile a good chunk of his earnings to the poor, especially in Medellin, building hospitals, schools and entire districts where homeless families go to live.
For this reason, becomes loved by the poorer classes , ie the vast majority of Colombians, and decides to enter politics, even to gain parliamentary privilege.
Is elected in Colombian Congress but soon after expelled under pressure from the Minister of Justice and from this moment the war between him and the state gets rough. It kills the minister of justice and gives a bounty of $ 1000 for every policeman killed. The policemen of course leave Medellin that becomes the most dangerous city in the world. Also, in the meantime began the war with the Cali cartel. The dead, including many innocent victims, are thousands.
Increasingly cornered, Escobar accepts to get arrested, but on condition that the constitution is changed so as to prevent the extradition of Colombians, because he does not want to end up in the U.S.. When he gets it, he goes in a prison built by himself: the Catedral , one of the most luxurious place on Earth.
But when the government, perhaps under pressure from the U.S., decides to transfer him to another prison, Escobar escapes.
On December 2, 1993, the day after his forty-fourth birthday, is found and killed on a rooftop in Medellin.

 

The headquarters of the Medellin cartel. After having been confiscated, was blown up by the Cali cartel, known as “Los Pepes”.

 

“Wanted” manifest with his brother Roberto. It is inside the house where he lived in the early ’80s, before moving to a country estate about 4 hours from Medellin, called “Napoles”.
The house is now a sort of museum and is home to Robert and his son Nicolas, nephew of Pablo.

 

Me with Nicolas, the nephew of Pablo Escobar.

 

If the tour itself was not exceptional, really interesting was instead meeting Nicolas , a very intelligent person, with whom we could discuss at length.
He said that 90% of the things said about Pablo Escobar are false.
On the death of his uncle no one knows the truth apart from him, his father and a third person. As soon as this third person will die (and Nicolas hopes soon) he will tell it. He apologized for not being able to say more about it but apart from this, responded fully to all questions, always with great sincerity and dignity, using the “we” even for the bloodiest actions of the Medellin cartel, such as the murder of the minister of justice.
He noted that the war waged by politicians against his uncle never had anything to do with moral issues, because the Colombian politicians have never thought in those terms. The problem was political, Escobar was the first person coming from a poor family to challenge the power managed by a cast of five Colombian families. Also, instead of just promising, as all politicians do, he was really helping people, and this is a fact.
On the United States said that the real problem for them is not so much the harmfulness of cocaine, but the flow of money going from there to Colombia and that must be stopped. It reminded me Chomsky that noted that many more Colombians die every year because of U.S. tobacco then Americans because of Colombian cocaine.

Looking back at his past he feels still a great love for his uncle, extraordinarily intelligent person and always ready to help the poor, but he realizes that, despite all the money he had, it was not a good life . He could hardly move around and when he did, he need to be escorted and armed to the teeth. Now he finds himself with 75% of his family and 99% of his friends killed. Even the three years in a hotel in Switzerland for $ 55,000 a day in the early 80s, were more like a senseless folly than something pleasant.

He told many interesting stories of life with his uncle:
Pablo deciding to learn French because he preferred to know the language of the people with whom he does business, and after only 3 months, when he meets up again, he speaks fluently in that language while Nicolas, for years in Switzerland with the best professors, still can’t do that!
The surreal luxury of the Catedral, the prison that Pablo self-built for himself, where almost every night there were parties and sometimes even football matches with entire teams inside.
The escalation of ways and means to bring the drugs in the U.S. beginning with small planes, after with ships, while now the Cali cartel is using mostly submarines.
The many international airports that made them go without controls in exchange for 25% of the value of the carried drugs… etc. … etc. …

Nicolas was arrested only once with a friend, immediately torn to pieces with a chainsaw by Colombian police in front of his eyes. Fortunately for him, in the meantime uncle Pablo knew of the arrest and personally called the president of Colombia, saying that this was a war between them and if they began to put in relatives then he would start to kill the sons and the nephews of all highest military and political men. 25 minutes after the call, Nicolas was free again.
After the death of Pablo, the family decided to stop. Now the drug trade is controlled mainly by the Cali cartel, their eternal rival.

One last curiosity. The war between the Medellin Cartel and the Cali moved also on the football field, with Independiente Medellin against America of Cali. And when the Cali drew a game thanks to a somewhat suspect refereeing, Escobar killed the referee! The hidden dream of every football fan! :-)

A big hug to the many new friends of the facebook page of Dekaro Diary!

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