Pablo Escobar may have looked like flossy haired favorite uncle with bad dress sense, but he was also the world’s most notorious drug lord, a legend to some—a monster to others. It is no surprise therefore, that Colombian network Caracol TV have turned his life into a telenovela: Escobar Boss of Evil staring Andrés Parra.
Crimezine understands the ratings for Escobar Boss of Evil have reached the level of that other hit Colombian show, Betty La Fea, which was anglicized into American hit show Ugly Betty.
Is Escobar a legitimate subject for such treatment though? The drug lord himself took a topple from a bullet raked Bogota rooftop in 1993 after US triangulation technology homed in on his cell phone signal, so he is in no position to argue. But the emergence of a soap opera documenting his life might be considered to be poor taste at best in a world that still suffers the runaway effects of drug war violence.
Rising from poverty to become one of the wealthiest men in the world, in 1989 Forbes magazine estimated Pablo Escobar had a personal net worth close to US$3 billion. Escobar is considered by many—particularly the Colombian poor, as a Robin Hood figure, responsible for the construction of hospitals, schools, churches, football fields, roads housing, and other social projects, in impoverished western Colombia.
But Colombia’s favorite uncle had a dark side. At the height of Escobar’s powers his Medellín drug cartel was smuggling 15 tons of cocaine a day, worth more than half a billion dollars, into the United States. Escobar murdered anyone who got in his way, politicians, judges, the police, competitors, and hundreds of ordinary Colombians too. There were 25,100 violent deaths in Colombia in 1991 and 27,100 in 1992, many of them attributable to Escobar, and his brakes off campaign of drug war homicide. Famously Escobar offered million peso bounties to murder police officers, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
In November 1989 Escobar ordered the destruction of a Domestic Colombian passenger flight, Avianca Flight 203, in an attempt to murder Colombian Presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo. The flight exploded mid-air, killing all 107 passengers. Trujillo, the target of this atrocity missed the flight.
Soon after, Escobar’s killers exploded a truck bomb close to Colombia’s DAS Building (Administrative Department of Security) killing 52 people and injuring about 1,000. The 500kg bomb, leveled several city blocks destroying more than 300 commercial properties in an attempt to assassinate DAS Director Miguel Maza Marquez. No one was safe from Escobar, including Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara, who was murdered for his work prosecuting cocaine traffickers.
The new soap is being co-produced by relatives of two of Escobar’s high profile victims: Camilo Cano, son of Guillermo
Cano, editor of El Espectador newspaper, who Escobar murdered in 1986, and Juana Uribe, niece of politician Luis Carlos Galan who was gunned down at a campaign appearance in 1989.
The open ended series was shot at over 400 Colombian locations, including a ranch resembling Hacienda Napoles, the infamous Escobar homestead, that had much in common with Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch, including its own private zoo.
Roberto Escobar, Pablo’s 65 year old brother is reportedly suing the producers of Escobar Boss of Evil, for allegedly lifting large tranches of his books for inclusion in the series.
Roberto, who now scrapes a living entertaining narco-tourists with tales of the bad old days, was once Pablo’s accountant, spending $2500 a month on rubber bands to wrap stacks of ill gotten cash—and since the Medellín cartel had more illegal money than they could bank—they stored the bricks of cash in warehouses, annually writing off 10% as “spoilage”. When rats crept in and feasted on the mountains of illicit cash. How times have changed. The Escobars are no longer billionaire drug lords, that title has been passed along to shadowier figures in Peru and Bolivia, where the much vaunted US policy of Coca eradication is ineffective. As for the cocaine industry it is, according to the UN worth an astonishing $85 billion annually, bigger than Microsoft, Pfizer, Unilever and Boeing—combined.
US Spanish language channel Telemundo will be broadcasting Escobar Boss of Evil consult your TV guide for details.