|Popeye with ex-Pres. Andrés Pastrana, who was kidnapped by the Medellin cartel.|
But this isn't just any middle-aged man, but Popeye, a one-time gunman for cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. He murdered some 250 people and has spent the last two decades in prison.
Popeye, whose real name is Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, was sentenced to the maximum possible 40 years in prison when he turned himself in. Since then, however, his sentence has been reduced because of good behavior and his testimony against other ex-members of the Medellin cartel.
Now, his release date is approaching.
Among other testimony, Popeye has told investigators that the Cuban government collaborated with the Medellin cartel, that the M-19 guerrillas accepted financing and other help from Escobar for their 1985 attack on the Justice Palace, and that powerful politicians collaborated with political assassinations committed by Escobar.
But 20 years in prison translates into just about one month for each murder Popeye committed. And those who have interviewed Popeye say he doesn't express much remorse.
Past age 50 and on parole, Popeye's not likely to return to the murdering business. But does anybody really believe that he's paid his debts to society?
I also wonder what sort of life expectancy Popeye can expect outside prison with so many underworld enemies seeking vengeance.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours