The Trickling Effects of Pablo Escobar

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Monstrous Humans: Pablo Escobar's Trickling Effects
After a lot of disappointed misses, a squad of law enforcement finally got intelligence putting their target in a two-story building in the suburbs of Medellin. Within minutes, Pablo Escobar was shot and killed while making a barefoot attempt to flee through the rooftop (Keeney, pg. 1). However, Escobar unwaveringly continues to die."..the dilemma now is how Escobar is, or should be, remembered." (The Sanchez). Statistics show appalling levels of violence experienced by the region, which is ironically judged by political peace and lack of civil war (Melo, pg. 63). For modern Colombian, all the different effects on their national life are linked to drug trafficking in varying degrees.
Curbing the influence of cartels has been impossible due to the complex organizational structures of trafficking channels. Six years after the death of Escobar, the production of Cocaine in Colombia increased by 143% (Kenney, pg. 188). Such numbers can be attributed to the increased influence of drug trafficking on the Columbian administration. For instance, Pablo Escobar’s policy of plata o plomo (cash or lead) (Bowley, pg. 4) manipulated the government into offering him protection from extraditions. As Melo (pg. 63) postulates, the increase in corruption and squalor of the judicial system can be attributed to the expansion of the narcotics industry. Hence the widespread influence of narcotics is like a cancer which cannot be killed and continued to promote the detriment of the society.
Pablo Escobar’s life and actions have had a diverse effect on the modern culture with the effects sparking an array of fans and critics alike. For the residents of Medellin, drug trafficking has provided the much needed reprieve from poverty. Within a period of eight years the city has undergone tremendous economic improvements including the cable car project which facilitated employment and desegregation (Becker, pg. 3). Columbian citizens regard drug trafficking as a necessary evil due to the economic benefits the country has amassed as a result of sale of narcotics. Over the past 20 years, the influence of narcotics has promoted the economic growth of Columbia and in turn disturbed the distribution of power in the country (Melo, pg. 63).
Other parts of the world do not however regard Pablo Escobar as a saint. “Thankfully there are still some sensible people who rejected the idea of having the Pablo Escobar trademark registered” (Wallace). For most of the production, the idea is to derive entertainment from the drama surrounding the life of Pablo Escobar (Bowley, pg. 4). Others depict the relationship between smuggling and violence experienced during the developmental stages of drug trafficking. Most drug traffickers used violence to settle conflicts which could not be dealt with otherwise (López-Restrepo and Camacho-Guizado, pg. 3). Recent films also attribute the spread of drug trafficking to money with some claiming that drug money gives traffickers the authority over culture, power and politics (Melo, pg. 63). Whichever the case, drug trafficking has maintained the policies established by Pablo Escobar and continues to cripple the society.
International countries have joined forces with the Columbian government ion an effort to curb the sale of illegal drugs. For instance in May 1961, the U.S government arrested two newspaper crew members for the possession of illegal substances (López-Restrepo and Camacho-Guizado, pg. 6). Kenney (pg. 188) supports this move citing that leadership is an integral part in the formulation of a strategy to combat the spread of drug trafficking.
During his reign as the kingpin of drug trafficking, Pablo Escobar’s empire was responsible for the deaths of over 4000 deaths (Wallace). His cartel was responsible for the spread of violence in Columbia including killings, bribing and kidnappings of its opposition. Yet 20 years after his shameful death, the people of Medellin still tenderly refer to him as Pablito saying “he was a benefactor for us “(Parra). Capitalists in the country gain a lot of profit from the sale of jewellery and T-shirts with the face of Pablo Escobar embedded on them. The life and death of Pablo Escobar has been well documented in books such as the 2001 Biography by Mark Bowden tittle “Killing Pablo” (Sanchez). Pablo was loved by this people because he was involved in several benevolent activities “It is one of the many “gifts” Escobar gave to the city’s poorest inhabitants in an effort to secure loyalty.” (Wallace). According to Bowley (pg 20) the people of Columbia mistrust the government and those in authority hence the Bandindos who murder prominent leaders are embraced and considered heroes in the society.
Perception of the drug trade is dependent on the people’s views concerning narcotics. Some people view narcotics as a form of entertainment and a basis for cultural evaluation. According to Martinez (Pg 10-11) the recollection that people have of past events is dependent on the type of information they are exposed to in terms of the media and cultural artefacts preserved in museums. Columbia TV Network released a hit series “Escobar: The Boss of Evil” which was sold to over 66 worldwide countries (Wallace). It seems that the series will be the most successful commercial production in the history of Columbia which goes to show the obstinate effect of Pablo Escobar’s regime in the development of modern culture.
Pablo Escobar continues to instigate curiosity even from his grave “…programs that commercialize the image of the drug trafficker…generate fascination among the audience…” (Parra) as journalists and media channels occasionally revisit the events of his lifetime during their news bulletins (Pobutsky pg. 684). According to Martinez (Pg 13) media has the ability to invoke empathy from its audience through the specific point of view adopted by the information showcased. In his book called “La Parabola de Pablo” Salazar seeks to tell his audience the historical truth about Pablo Escobar as seen from the eyes of his family members and his associates Martinez (Pg 13). Consequently, the book was converted into a television series that continues to gain popularity all around the continent. Increase in drug trade has led to a rampant change in the economic, social and political structure in the country of Columbia. It has reshaped the patterns of urban development, population distribution and has solicited the change in function of the state and the ethical values (Melo pg. 64). As a result, Columbia continues to face increasing levels of violence due to the disruption of the societal norms of the country.
Critics of the cultural effects however highlight on the detriment brought by the Escobar drug Empire on the people “It is worrisome development that a new generation of Columbians and Latinas who did not grow up during Pablo Escobar’s era of terror may become fond of him” (Sanchez). In an interview, Rodrigo Lara Restrepo, whose father was shot and killed under the order of Escobar, claims that the culture prompted by the drug trafficking empire is one that values money more than the preservation of human life (Wallace). An example of mass destruction is the failed assassination attempt on the then presidential candidate Cesar Gaviria. Escobar bombed a commercial plane that Gaviria, who later cancelled his plans, was to board. Thus 107 innocent passengers and crew members ended up dead as a result (Wallace). Continued broadcasting of the life and times of Pablo Escobar sends a damaging message to the young people because it seems to encourage the notion that drug trafficking is a way of making fast money in an effort to end poverty.
With the impending future, the capital marketing of the events of Pablo Escobar’s life shows no signs of regress. El Patron as he was commonly referred, has become the focus of the entire entertainment industry. His name is so valuable that companies have adopted it all over the world in an effort to gain a competitive edge (Parra). For instance, in Kuwait there is a Pablo Escobar Ice Cream shop whose employees operate wearing T-Shirts with the image of the notorious drug lord. A bar in Argentina has a poster of Pablo Escobar smiling while firing two handguns (Parra).
Owing to the success of the recent Netflix series Narcos, a wave of support for Pablo Escobar has spread throughout the globe “Certainly he has become part of the Latin American pop culture history” (Sanchez). In the internet, a host of items ranging from books to phone cases with Escobar’s name and face are available for purchase on eBay (Parra). Articles are embracing his philosophy of plata o plomo with tourists flocking to the places where he was born and where he died. Residents of Medellin venerate Escobar with some even offering prayers in his name. This is because of the contributions made by Escobar in the donation of houses to the poor and development of recreational facilities such as soccer fields. He also provided food and amenities for the poor people who support him saying “whatever he was, he did very good things” (Parra).
Columbia’s damaged history continues to repeat itself offering no room for its people to heal form the atrocities they faced in the hands of Escobar (Pobutsky, pg 685). Also, world around continues to probe into the character of Pablo Escobar in an attempt to understand the man who played both roles of villain and angel so meticulously. Thus the constant scrutiny into his life increases his relevance in the modern day and even increases his followership. In conclusion, it is quite apparent that the world is not free from Pablo Escobar’s grip. It is as if he is reaching out from hell to grasp the socioeconomic status of the world even after his demise.

Works Cited
Becker, S. “The Effects of the Drug Cartels on Medellin and the Colombian State. “Brandeis University. 2013.
Bowley, Jenna, "Robin Hood or Villain: The Social Constructions of Pablo Escobar". Honours College. Paper 109. 2013.
González, Pablo and Vázquez, Alfredo. “An Ontological Turn in the Debate on Buen Vivir – Sumak Kawsay in Ecuador: Ideology, Knowledge, and the Common”. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Routledge. 2015.
Kenney, Michael. “From Pablo to Osama: Counter-Terrorism Lessons From War on Drugs”. Survival vol 45 No 3, pp187-206. The International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2003.
Martinez, Ricardo. “Crossing Boundaries: From Collective to Prosthetic Memory of Pablo Escobar” University Of Minnesota. 2014.
Melo, Jorge. Chapter 3: The Drug Trade, Politics and the Economy: The Colombian Experience
Parra, Catalina. “Pablo Escobar: From Narco-Terrorist to Marketing Success”,
Pobutsky, Aldona. “Peddling Pablo: Escobar’s Cultural Renaissance” Hispania 96.4 (2013): 684–99. Oakland University, USA. 2013.
Sanchez, Alejndro. “Pablo Escobar’s Legacy, 20 Years Later”. Latino Voices. 2014. Wallace, Arturo. “Drug Boss Pablo Escobar Still Divides Columbia” BBC News. 2013.

July 24, 2021


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