Twenty years after his death, drug baron Pablo Escobar remains a powerful presence in Medellin, his hometown, and that public veneration is not sitting well with victims’ relatives, the BBC reported Monday.
He was killed in a Dec. 2, 1993 shootout with Colombian security forces.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Escobar’s Medellin Cartel was believed to responsible for as much as 80 percent of the cocaine sent to the United States. Escobar himself is thought to be culpable in upwards of 4,000 deaths.
But in Medellin’s commercial district, it is relatively easy to purchase watches and T-shirts with his face on them along with DVDs about his life, according to the BBC.
Pirated copies of a very popular Colombian soap opera about Escobar remain popular with many visitors to markets there.
Escobar's son, who recently launched a clothing line with his father’s images on it, says that out of respect for his fathers’ victims, he does not sell the product in Colombia, according to the BBC.
But, at least in Medellin, it is not difficult to find Colombians ready to purchase T-shirts with Escobar’s face on them.
In Barrio Pablo Escobar, the drug baron’s old Medellin neighborhood, several local firms have been offering tours with Escobar-related themes.
Some of the relatives of his victims say they are offended by this state of affairs.
"In a way it is an example of the triumph of culture embodied by Pablo Escobar, in which profit, making three bucks, is more important than anything else," says Rodrigo Lara Restrepo.
His father, Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla was assassinated by Escobar’s operatives.
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