Pablo Escobar: Poet-thug of Colombia?

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Long after his death in 1993, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar remains a subject of public fascination and a bizarre sort of hero-worship.

Mark Bowden’s best-selling book, “Killing Pablo,” is still popular around the world more than 10 years after it was published.

But what’s especially striking is that on any given day it’s possible to find young men taking to their Twitter accounts claiming to be simpatico with the once-feared outlaw. For years I’ve noticed writers of both genders Tweeting their favorite Escobar quotes, as if the crime boss is seen as a Colombian philosopher or the country’s poet-thug.

His largely discredited “Robin Hood” image grew out of assistance that he provided to the poor of Medellin early in his rise to drug world dominance. Pablo was definitely a job creator. It was from the slums of Medellin that he recruited most of his hired killers.

Pablo Escobar terrorized Colombia. Other drug bosses feared and loathed him.

He arranged for bombings that killed innocent bystanders – a commercial jetliner en route to Cali, a government building in rush-hour Bogota, and a number of retail stores owned by another cartel family. He ordered political assassinations, the murders of police officers and judges and more than one massacre of business rivals.

Here are some Pablo quotes, along with notable and contrary sentiments expressed by Escobar foes, three rival godfathers of the Cali cartel.

“I’m a decent man who exports flowers.” — Pablo Escobar*

Pablo is “a bandit…a criminal…a crazy guy…No one is safe.” — Jose “Chepe” Santacruz Londono

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“Sometimes I feel like God…when I order someone killed – they die the same day.” — Pablo Escobar*

“Sometimes, Pablo ignores his own best interests. He goes to war and expects to win friends. He’s a fool — a dangerous fool.” — Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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“I prefer to be in the grave in Colombia than in a jail cell in the United States.” — Pablo Escobar*

“We want Pablo Escobar dead.” — Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela

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* Note: Cali cartel quotes taken from  “At the Devil’s Table.”  Pablo’s quotes from interviews with Colombian journalist Elizabeth Mora-Mass  and published in “Lovers and Other Monsters – Pablo Escobar Gaviria” by Juliet Paez-Parada.