|Tourists in front of the Edificio Monaco. (Photo: El Tiempo)|
The Edificio Monaco, an uninteresting white block in Medellin's exclusive El Poblado neighborhood,
|U.S. rapper Whalid Kalifa stands in |
front of the Edificio Monaco.
Like Escobar's tomb, his Napoles estate and his old mansion, the Monaco building is now a stop on the city's Escobar tours - an uncomfortable situation for Medellin's leaders, who fear the narcos are being glamorized, and would like to have the city's terrible past forgotten and replaced with a brilliant future.
But the authorities are waging a futile fight against human nature. Sadly, crime, violence and depravity sell big. Few of the people on our tours have heard of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize for literature by writing beatifully about Colombia. But virtually everybody's heard of Escobar, who unleashed terror on Colombia and beyond. And that won't change.
|The Justice Palace in Bogotá, where the |
M19 guerrillas, financed by Escobar, attacked in 1985.
|A tall stone wall surrounds the one-time estate of |
'El Mexicano', an associate of Escobar. The north Bogotá
property was just purchased by the Chinese Embassy.
The best that Medellin's leaders can hope for is that Escobar and his ilk are seen as the criminals they were, instead of some sorts of glamorized action figures, or comic book anti-heroes, as has happened to the pirates and Genghis Khan.
In that sense, the mayor's proposal to raze the Monaco building and replace it with a memorial for Escobar's victims makes a lot of sense.
Understandably, Medellin authorities protested several months ago when American rapper Wiz Khalifa placed flowers on Escobar's tomb and posted the photos on the Internet. And they protested again when Medellin city employees posed for photos with 'Popeye', one of Escobar's assassins, who was released from prison about a year ago.
|Plaques commemorate the 'Holocaust of the Justice Palace,' |
in which more than 100 people were killed.
|A memorial in the spot where politician |
Jorge Eliecer Gaitán was assassinated in 1948,
triggering the Bogotazo riots.
The best lesson we can learn from the stories of Pablo Escobar and Al Capone and others who became wealthy and violent by trafficking illegal substances is that as long as drugs are outlawed, violent outlaws will get rich trafficking them.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours