Medellin authorities on Friday imploded the iconic home of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar that over the years had become a tourist attraction.
The Monaco building came down minutes before noon after hours of ceremony that was attended by many of the city’s socialites, and included speeches by President Ivan Duque and Mayor Federico Gutierrez.
According to the president, the demolition of Escobar’s old home “is not just the implosion of a building, but the resurgence of history in memory of the victims.”
Duque, whose political patron is a former associate of the Medellin Cartel, said that “history will not be written by the victimizers” but “will recognize the victims.”
Dozens of reporters were treated to canapes and a performance by the city’s philharmonic orchestra as the mayor promoted a public relations campaign that seeks to draw attention away from the ongoing scourge of violence in Colombia’s drug trafficking capital.
Gutierrez has been under fire for his excessive spending on propaganda, his administration’s failures to effectively lower violent crime rates and the ongoing ties between the city’s jet set and the organized crime organizations that emerged from the Medellin Cartel.
“This is the act of a vain mayor: it’s simplistic. The Monaco Building is a convenient focus – it’s a show,” journalist and scholar Juan Diego Restrepo told Colombia Reports on Thursday.
Restrepo, whose website Verdad Abierta has been exposing ties between organized crime and Colombia’s political and economic elite for years, accused Medellin’s jet set of trying to whitewash the city’s painful history without solving its problems.
It is in the interest of Medellin businessmen that reminders of drug trafficking disappear, because their ghosts from the past — who helped them to get ahead in times of crisis with total impunity — disappear with those reminders.
Journalist and scholar Juan Diego Restrepo
Gutierrez vowed to construct a park and a monument in the honor of victims at the place where Pablo Escobar lived until the building was bombed in 1988 by a death squad that would later inherit and grow the city’s illegal economy.
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