Tuesday, September 12, 2017

'Francis in the Land of the Narcos'

'Francis in the Fatherland of the Narcos,' in Spain's
El Mundo newspaper was not appreciated in Colombia.
,No nation likes to be labeled a 'narco state' - even when there's an element of truth in it. So, when Spain's El Mundo newspaper ran a story about the Pope's visit entitled 'Francisco in the Fatherland of the Narcos,' it generated lots of anger here.

Of course, if any nation ever was a narcoland, it was Colombia back in the '80s and '90s, when Escobar, his associates and his rivals in Cali kidnapped and assasinated politicians almost at will and even threatened to destroy the state. Today, despite record levels of cocaine production, Colombia has left the narcos era behind.

But, altho Colombia doesn't appreciate being reminded of Escobar & Co., some Colombians don't mind making money off of that legacy.

This Medellin tour promises that it's the real, original Escobar tour - and promises to contribute part of its income (but not how much) to social causes. This tour has 'EVERYTHING IN EXTREMES: POWER, MONEY, BETRAYAL, DRUGS, WOMEN, CRIMES, ARRESTS, ESCAPES, HIS OWN ZOO AND ALSO HIS OBSCURE DEATH.' the website points out, before veering away from the drama and violence to point out that many Colombians were impacted by the drug trade, and boasting that theirs is 'The tour accepted and recognized by local people.'

The scale of the tragedy from the narcos era would be hard to overestimate. Some say that Escobar killed 50,000 people, thru bombings, assassinations and general mayhem. Adding to that the other cartels and the general atmosphere of violence produced a homicide rate hundreds of times higher than that of a 'normal' European nation.

Here in Bogotá, the Colombian mafia tour makes no bones about what it's about:

While the 'Heroes tour', subtitled 'Colombia vs. Pablo Escobar', seems to aim to ignore Escobar by focusing on him.

Colombian television has never shied away from making miniseries about drugs, cartels, guerrillas and paramilitaries. However, there seems to be a bit of resentment against Netflix, which is making the real money with its Narcos series.

A Bogotá billboard advertising Netflix' Narcos series points out that the Medellin cartel emphasized violence, and the Cali cartel corruption.
As for the El Mundo article, it was actually a thoughtful piece about Medellin's renaissance and the city's role in Catholic Church history, particularly in the development of Liberation Theology. And the newspaper's editor admitted that the headline was designed to attract clicks. Such is the desperate nature of today's newspaper business.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: