7 Colombians Talk Pablo Escobar: Angel or Devil?

Pablo Escobar is easily one of the most infamous Colombians to ever walk the streets of the Andean nation. His infamy, of course, came from his massive cocaine business, the terror he inflicted on his home nation, but, also, the charity and good will he gave to the poor. It’s why many Colombians have varying opinions of Escobar. We spoke with a few Colombians who lived through his reign and asked them, “Was Escobar an angel or the devil incarnate?”

“Escobar was known as The Robin Hood of the poor. He built and gave away houses for many people. He built parks for kids with scarce resources, futbol fields, gave away money and sponsored many people who needed help. Those are enough reasons for those who venerate and admire him. Yes, it is true that he did much more than the government did for some cities but that does not justify the bad he did with his way of taking control over the business of drug trafficking. So what happens to a person in their search for control and power that wants to take the whole world on? In reality his good deeds end up being only strategies to camouflage a form of crime. More importantly, the legacy or teachings he left the next generations was bad. They want to live a luxurious life and obtain it the easy way. I refer to those who want to become rich selling drugs, kidnapping, stealing, killing and extorting people. They don’t want to study and obtain things through hard work. Those are the reasons that for me Pablo was one of the worst Colombians in our history.”Kelly, 30, self-employed
“He did a lot of good things. He created houses for the poor and gave houses to many mothers who’ve never had one. He gave jobs and helped people who needed it. He wanted to change the country and most importantly the government. That’s why he got into politics. When he did, he aspired to be a president to change many things to change the country. But, the government went against him and took him out of the running. So he sought vengeance and killed many people. He placed bombs and even exploded a plane. He implemented a lot of violence and many innocent people died. But, I liked him because he was going to take Colombia out of poverty and make it a rich country. The government runs Colombia wrong. Colombia is rich in everything, but the politicians steal the resources. So he got into politics and the Minister of Justice, Rodrigo Lara, complained saying that he had been in jail and was a narco trafficker. They kicked him out like a dog. That’s where he started the war towards its leaders.”Ruben, 41, insulation worker
“At first he was an admirable man who helped many people. He wanted to be Robin Hood. He stole from the rich to give to the poor. When he started wanting power is when he turned into fiend and terrorized the country. It’s hard to say if he’s a hero or a villain. At first he was a hero and at the end a villain. He put the country at its knees.”Daniel, 36, insulation worker
“I think it’s impossible to love a man that did so many damage to a country. He’s the main man who brought drugs to Colombia. He’s the biggest assassin of all. He killed kids, elderly, and teenagers with no signs of remorse. He was dedicated to killing the police, he paid millions to get them killed. He left many children orphans, women and men widows, because he killed with no compassion. For me it’s as if he did not exist because he did bad things to our country, our society and his own family.”Rubiela, 64, retired
“Aside from the horrible and terrorizing he did, I liked his personality. He was a person who whatever he thought, made reality. And he had big ideas. He helped do the impossible possible for people. He immortalized himself because of what he did. Despite the years that have passed the people still know who he is and remember the great things he did. Like reconstruct the entire barrio for people of low resources. He had his zoo with some of the most exotic animals in the world and had a huge car collection. Like I said, I like him because what he wanted, he made possible. Nothing was impossible for him.”Alejandro, 34, construction worker
“He had so much influence in Colombia that he changed a generation. Those people saw how easy drug trafficking was so they didn’t go to college or work because it was easier for them to make money selling drugs. When that ended, all those people didn’t know how to do anything and they were already in their 30s or 40s. So what happened was that they started becoming hit men or extortionists. Just being delinquents because they didn’t know how to do anything. Many people I knew ended up like that. At one point they had money, houses, women, cars and then all of a sudden nothing, begging people for money for a soda.”Javier, 42, business owner
“He is a man who ruined the reputation of a country. Due to him and his people we are known all over the world as a country of drugs and they stereotype us as narco traffickers. When I lived in Medellin, I lived in fear and terror. I remember each night they would put a new bomb in a different part of the city. He then moved on to other cities like Bogota and Cali. That time marks me because we could not leave the house at night and the number one program to watch in TV was the news. For me the saddest aspect of all was the prostitution and hit men because it is still something common in my country.”Natalia, 45, kindergarten teacher

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