Pablo Escobar, a hero to some but a monster to many. A man who once started as a nice family man would soon drop out of college and eventually be known to the world as “The King of Cocaine.” Born in 1949 and raised in Medellin, Colombia Escobar lived a normal life until he suddenly dropped out of the Universidad Autonoma Latinoamericana of Medellin where he would find himself in a life of criminal activity. Starting out by just selling contraband cigarettes and phony lottery tickets he would ultimately work his way up and be the infamous drug lord he is known as today. In his short-lived life, he would amass so much money that he would start to bury it, burn it, or give it away to the poor in Medellin. How can one so “compassionate”, giving away his money to the poor be considered a monster? Society’s culture of making a “macho man” led Pablo to a life of political obsession, bloodshed, and drug smuggling.
Pablo Escobar helped give the country of Colombia a name of being a land of coffee and cocaine, one that was plagued by corruption and violence but he is not the only one to blame for this. Long before Escobar Colombia already had “a long history of internal political instability and violence as well a deeply rooted outlaw tradition.” Colombia’s location and rough terrain made it hard for the government to enforce laws. Colombia’s political parties at the time were corrupted, letting bandidos and contrabandistas becoming mayors of their towns making it easier for these drug lords to smuggle many things. Thus being, Pablo Escobar is a product of the violence that had already existed in Colombia, he was a monster born by the Colombian culture. Being the man he was, yearning wealth and power, his charisma and ambition set him apart from his peers and helped him become the richest man in the world at one point. “Escobar was just another hoodlum chasing the ‘paisa dream’ of wealth and social position, but referring illegal methods over hard work.”
Pablo Escobar was a product of the society he lived in. He is a good example of The Monster Culture Thesis 1: The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body. What this thesis expresses, is that each culture creates its own monster. “The monstrous body is pure culture,” Escobar had dug himself into this giant hole and there was no going back from it. Once he got his hands on that little bit of money he did everything he could to get more. In his short-lived life Escobar ordered his hitman to kill over 3,000 people including policemen, soldiers, rival cartel members and innocent people including children. Although it was known about the many people killed because of this one man many still idolized Escobar, even giving him the name “El Patron” translating to “The Boss.” This is another way Escobar can be connected to thesis 1 and the idea that the monster is created by its culture. By the time he had his notorious fame he was part of the Medellin culture, he was an “idea,” even an icon that many idolized respected but still feared. He was a representative of Medellin.
In 1976, Escobar was arrested for the first time (while being known as a drug lord) for smuggling thirty-nine pounds of cocaine. When arrested Escobar was able to easily bribe the judge with what he wanted and was released. It was then that Escobar knew how easy it was to continue his “reign” of El Patron. At this point the United States and Colombian government already had him under their supervision and were thinking of ways to catch him and arrest him. Unable to detain him, Escobar made a deal with the Colombian government that he would make his own “jail.” At this jail he had prostitutes, alcohol, tobacco and plenty of other things that aren’t at a regular jail. Eventually he would escape and would be on the run until he was shot by a DEA agent, there ending the reign of Pablo Escobar.
Escobar is a great example of monster thesis 2: The Monster Always Escapes. The countless amount of times that Escobar avoided jail time and even escaped his own luxury jail correlates with the thesis perfectly. Neither Colombia or the United States were able to successfully arrest and one can say that was his greatest trait as drug lord and a monster. “We see the damage the monster wreaks… but the monster turns immaterial and vanishes.” Escobar’s bounty was always to catch him alive and no one was ever successful until he was shot December 2, 1993 a day after his 44th birthday.
Pablo Escobar was the first to establish a smuggling route to the United States and it was estimated that around 70 to 80 tons of cocaine were being shipped to The United States from Colombia monthly. While illegally smuggling drugs he showed another facet to his criminal persona that would embody the criminal that he is known as today, that was, “an aptitude for influencing his public image by enforcing his own sort of social justice.” He knew how to gain the hearts and trust of the poor and was able to hire them to do his dirty work of killing people and smuggling. In 1982, Escobar would be elected to be a representative in the Chamber of Colombia but by this time the Colombian and United States government already had him under surveillance. Soon he was removed from his position, only adding more fuel to the fire; resulting in bombings around the city of Medellin and even putting a target on the head of the department of security Coronel Miguel Maza.
Escobar hiring the poor by giving them empty promises of fortune and even running and be elected to be a representative in the chamber of Colombia can be correlated with thesis 5: The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible. What this thesis states, is that, “There are two different sides to monsters. On the monster side if it steps out of its boundaries or geography it may cause a lot of harm to what’s around it.” In regards to this thesis when the monster steps out of its boundaries or comfort zone that can be either social, political, cultural or physical harm. Escobar being denied this position of power in office made him become more of a monster bombing more places in Medellin and putting targets on people of power of Colombia. Another quote from the thesis that can relate to Escobar is, “The monster prevents mobility (intellectual, geographic, or sexual)…” everyone under Escobar’s wing respected and feared him and would do only what he would order them to do so, he got people to trust him and then was able to use them for his own selfish reasons.
Lastly, and the most important thesis Escobar can be connected to is thesis 6: The Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire. This thesis talks about how we are scared of these so-called monsters yet we still loathe and envy them. “This corporal fluidity, this simultaneity of anxiety and desire, ensures that the monster will always dangerously entice,” the respect, envy, yet fear of Escobar by “his people” led him to amount to the power and wealth he obtained. Although many can see him like a robin hood, the ancient Greek hero Odysseus or even a modern day El Chapo a man who utilized torture, death, kidnapping and targeted innocent people is a real life modern monster. His environment and culture that he lived in and the power and wealth he desired led him to become the monster that we all know today as; Pablo Escobar.
Ahmed, Adem. “Bucknell Digital Commons.” Drug Lord as Heroic Archetype, 2016, digitalcommons.bucknell.edu/honors_theses/344/.
Although in this thesis they write about Escobar being a “heroic” character of his time I was able to use a lot of this information about the beginning of his life and how he got to the point of being one of the richest men of his time. Some of the details provided in this thesis I was able to use with thesis 1: The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body. I do by comparing how became evil because of the time and area he lived in.
Bowley, Jenna. “ Robin Hood or Villain: e Social Constructions of Pablo Escobar.” Http://Digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/Cgi/Viewcontent.cgi?Article=1108&Context=Honors, May 2013, digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1108&context=honors.
This book was useful by having the various times Pablo Escobar was evil, whether it being hiring the poor in Medellin to do his dirty work, or the amount of people he killed. I was able to find points in this book that related to monster thesis 2: The Monster Always Escapes. For example Pablo was always able to escape authority and even able to create his own jail.
Brancato, Chris, director. Narcos , Season 1 & 2, Netflix.
The show Narcos portrayed a lot of the evil that Pablo Escobar had burrowing inside him. It showed the amount of people he killed, him running for office and even what he put his family through. I related this to monster thesis 4: The monster dwells at the gates of difference. Escobar running for office put him so out of his comfort zone making him crazier than he already was. And the second he was taken out of office he was just angered more resulting in bombings and deaths of more innocent people.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
I used monster Thesis 1,2,4,5 to be able to show how Escobar really was a monster. Once I was able to relate what he had done in his life to a couple of these thesis I knew he was truly a “monster.”