I don´t know about you but I loved the Narcos series. Once I arrived in the cities of Colombia, it became apparent very quickly that they did not share my enthusiasm. But I get it. This for them was a very recent past that the country has just shrugged off. Why did America decide now, to glorify what to many was a terrorist of their country? Medellin, Colombia is the main city in which the series is focused and correctly so. It is where Pablo Escobar lived growing up past early childhood, but also where he developed into the narcoterrorist until his death there in 1993. While it may seem his life makes for a fab series, there are many things incorrect in the series along with many extra facts the series producers decided not to add. Here were my favourite (is favourite the right word?) realisations after a week spent in Medellin, Colombia about Narcos.
Even in his heydey, Pablo Escobar was not the most powerful drug lord. There were other cartels leaders such as ‘The Mexican’. Even his cousin Gustava Gaviria until his death in August 1990, was considered by all accounts ‘more successful’.
Pablo Escobar never did cocaine, he smoked marijuana.
His security guards.
Many of the properties Escobar owned were completely ransacked on his death. By other cartels, the government or people believing there would be something hidden of value. However many people that were part of the Medellin cartel, whatever role they played have not been found guilty of any crimes. In fact, one of Pablo Escobar’s old security guards owns the collapsing property in Guatape, pictured above and makes money off it as a result of Pablo’s fame.
The guy that played Pablo in the series was Brazilian. To a Colombian watching it, it would be a little like an English man speaking and playing Hitler, in an equal series. He was also short (1.67cm) and very overweight, smoking so much weed and loving American food. In the series, they often have shots that make him appear tall and broad in stature. Probably a way producers thought would make him look more formidable. This fact was mentioned so many times by people who knew him, ‘he didn’t even look like that guy!’
Mansions and zoos.
Many know of the zoo Pablo Escobar build at the height of his wealth and power within one of the estates of his many mansions. In this zoo were many species, however, on his arrest, the government took ownership of the property. Taking on this ownership they attempted to move the animals to various legal zoos across the globe. However, due to there aggressive nature, they couldn’t control and move the Hippos to safety. Now Hippos are in the wild in two places in the world; Africa and Colombia as a result of Escobar’s zoo.
Sicarios (Escobars killers)
The Medellin cartel’s killers or ‘sicarios’ were bred commonly from teenagers to be ruthless killers, they were however incredibly religious. They believed that one, the person they were shooting deserved to die and two, the blood was on the person who ordered them to do so hands. E.g if Escobar ordered to have one of the Cali cartel killed, the blood is on Escobars hands, not theirs. Often they wore a cross on the wrist of the hand they were holding the gun with to give them good aim in order to make a clean kill. They also saw religion as a ‘soap’ of sorts. The prostitutes they slept with and drugs they did? They would immediately go to pray to ‘cleanse’ themselves. After that, all gone, they were good men again. Above was one of the Medellin Cartel members main religious spots. It is pathed with plaques to the Virgin Mary, none going into any more detail bar giving thanks…
The opinion of the Colombians and particularly Medellin is mainly driven by frustration toward Narcos. One man, I spoke to said they were never allowed to leave the house Sundays for worry that bombs may go off. He remembers his childhood and teenage years as fear, that was the only word he could give. They consider Escobar a narcoterrorist, someone that stunted their countries growth not by years, but by decades. Other Colombians still believe he was a good man, one woman mentions of how he gave her a house for her family. Her two sons became part of the Medellin cartel (Escobar’s cartel) and consequently were both killed. But to her, he is still a good man. That all said the family, including Pablo and his cousin, a more powerful drug lord, are buried in the most prestigious and main cemetery of Medellin. In what other countries would a terrorist be allowed a plaque and a grave with his family?
Limon is a regular character in Narcos. He was a security guard to both the family and Pablo, being with Pablo right until the end. He was a was a very superstitious man. On Escobars final birthday he had cake and wine with his Aunt and of course, Limon. His Aunt recalled Pablo dropped his glass of wine and the glass didn’t break. At this Limon said ‘That’s not good news boss, fate is meant to run its course, that glass should have broken’. Escobar replied with ‘don’t worry Limon, no one dies on their birthday’. The following day both were dead.
In the global community, it is widely thought the Colombian and American government killed Pablo Escobar like the Narcos series suggests. However, the autopsy report does not match the pictures that are widely found on the internet about where the bullet wounds were on his body. Eg, They mention in the report he was shot on the outer left thigh, however, in the photo above you can see he is not. Supporting his sons and many others belief-Pablo Escobar killed himself.