Americas

Pablo Escobar 'would have likely committed suicide instead of being captured alive'

Drug kingpin had said in many speeches that he would never allow himself to be taken alive, says childhood friend

Sinan Doğan   | 18.02.2022
Pablo Escobar 'would have likely committed suicide instead of being captured alive'

BOGOTA, Colombia 

A childhood friend of Pablo Escobar says the world-famous drug baron would have more than likely committed suicide rather than be captured alive, as he said many times. 

Edgar Jimenez Mendoza, an author whose nickname is “El Chino,” told Anadolu Agency that he and Escobar, who was also the head of the Medellin Cartel in Colombia, had met in high school when they were just 13.

After studying in the same classroom with Escobar for three years, Mendoza said he never met with him in the ensuing 15 years.

“Pablo was a mediocre student, not an attention-drawing one. We had so many beautiful memories but lost contact afterwards,” he said.

Recalling that he saw Escobar again in 1980, when he was the fifth richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, Mendoza said their meeting took place thanks to a friend of theirs.

Mendoza said Escobar met with him at Hacienda Napoles, the drug kingpin’s famous luxurious estate that served as his headquarters.

"Pablo greeted me with great happiness and enthusiasm and asked me what I do. So I told him I was doing photography.”

“He hired me to take pictures of the animals in the zoo (on the estate). Then I became his personal photographer over time,” he said.

He also noted that he took the last photos of Escobar with his family on his son’s birthday.

‘Only baron who has declared war on state’

Mendoza said the Colombian government, the US and the Unites States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had been fighting Escobar for 10 years.

“The first main difference that distinguished Pablo from other drug barons is that he was the most powerful man in drug trafficking, and the second is that he was the only drug baron who has declared war on the state, as a person unprecedented in history.

“Pablo had two opposing characters. One side was good and the other side was evil,” he added.

Mendoza also noted that some people in Escobar’s neighborhood were very attached to him and you could see his picture everywhere, but for the victims of the drug war, he was no better than the devil."

Pointing out that hundreds of innocent people lost their lives in the state’s fight against Escobar and other criminal organizations, Mendoza said "important people were kidnapped and taken hostage, the streets were unsafe, and bombs were constantly exploding.”

During his political campaign, Escobar built many houses for those living in terrible conditions, Mendoza said, adding he was there with Escobar taking photos of the whole process.

‘Netflix is missing details’

Mendoza said many film projects had been carried out to tell the story of the drug baron’s life, especially underlining that the Netflix series Narcos is wrong about many dates and is missing details about Escobar’s life.

“I see Hollywood movies that reflect Pablo's life as disconnected from reality,” he said.

Noting that many businesspeople and politicians wanted to do business with Escobar, especially in the 1980s, because of his wealth, Mendoza said that everything began to change when Guillermo Cano, director of the newspaper El Espectador, revealed that Escobar was a drug trafficker.

"After his death, Pablo's sister (Alba) Marina, said: 'If you think that with Pablo's death you have ended the drug trade and violence in this country, you are very wrong,'" Mendoza said, adding “29 Years after Pablo's death, drug trafficking continues.”

"Police Colonel (Hugo) Aguilar said he killed Pablo himself, and in a second claim, the DEA said: 'We killed him.’ But Pablo's family says that Pablo committed suicide, and I personally believe it more, because Pablo had said in many speeches that he would never allow himself to be captured alive.

Escobar’s two brothers, Roberto Escobar and Fernando Sánchez Arellano, believe he shot himself through the ear. In a statement on the subject, they said he had committed suicide and did not get killed.

In an interview in 2016 with the British newspaper The Sun, Escobar’s son, Sebastian Marroquin, said he is "absolutely certain" that Escobar took his own life to save his family from being taken hostage by his enemies.

“After Pablo's death, some of his properties were nationalized by the state, while others were taken away from his wife by the Cali Cartel," Mendoza added.

Life of Crime

The famous drug baron, born on Dec. 1, 1949 in Rionegro, Colombia, whose real name is Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, had brought together the most powerful barons of the region in the 1970s and monopolized the cocaine trade.

Although Escobar was eligible to enter parliament in 1982 due to his social projects, especially for the poor, he was forced to resign because of the allegations of the justice minister of the time.

Escobar died at the age of 44 on Dec. 2, 1993 on the roof of a house in Medellin in a shootout with the Colombian National Police after being on the run for 16 months.

He was held responsible for the deaths of at least 4,000 people.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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