The majority of Colombians are quite sick of Pablo Escobar.
You know, that pop culture drug dealer icon that has been idolized in American TV and movies. I’m talking to the millions of you who have binged every season of 'Narcos' on Netflix.
But that’s exactly what frustrates so many Colombians today - the refusal from the rest of the world to just get on with it. Stop talking about Escobar, stop making movies and TV shows about him, and stop painting Colombia with that same paint brush. Colombians are ready to be known for something other than a drug dealer from the 1980’s.
While we were in Colombia, we heard this sentiment a lot. We decided to turn the cameras around on our two fixers, Alanna and Henry, who were with us during our shoots in Medellín. We asked them why so many Colombians feel this way. The same conversation also came up during an interview we did with Oberdan Martinez, who runs the theme park in Hacienda Napoles (which was Escobar’s old party palace in the hills outside Medellín. Quite a different place today).
Check out the video to see their reasons. Keep in mind, these are the opinions of three people. Not everyone in Colombia feels this way. But, this opinion is quite popular in Colombia. Most just want to move past it.
It’s worth noting, though, that there is still a big slice of the Colombian population who regard Escobar as a kind of “Robin Hood” figure. He did, after all, build roads, schools, houses, and hospitals for some of the most impoverished areas of Colombia. That gained him a lot of loyal fans who, to this day, say he did more for them than the government ever has.
So will pop culture, and the world in general, ever let Colombia live down the legacy of Escobar? I think so. No one will ever forget - nor do Colombians want to forget, lest they repeat the past. But I do think, eventually, some new contentious figure will captivate the world. New movies and TV shows will be made, and Escobar will recede.
Check out that full story about Hacienda Napoles, and what it has become today. (You kind of have to see it to believe it). And here's one more from Hacienda Napoles, about Escobar's hippo menagerie breeding uncontrollably. And one more from Colombia, for good measure. This story is all about a crazy Colombian game called Tejo, that mixes booze and gunpowder.