He has a $1 million price tag on his head from drug cartels, but Pablo Escobar’s son continues to work for peace and reconciliation in Columbia. This is a brave man who knows more than most of us how violence can spin sickeningly out of control. He could have taken over his father’s billion dollar empire but never wanted it because the violence and madness appalled him.
When did you notice that your life was different to other people’s?
In 1984, when the Minister of Justice died, on the order of my father, my life changed overnight. I was living a normal life and the next day I woke up in Panama, exiled for my father’s crimes.
This is a man who you love, but went from being a young student to a trafficker, what changes did you notice in him?
I think drug dealing, thanks to prohibition, is a way to a path of violence. My father, although he had good intentions to help those who were needy. He build 4,000 houses for people who literally lived in rubbish dumps, he built schools and hospitals and sport centres. But, finally, the violence that was generated by drug dealing really trapped him.
He went mad with violence, especially when a car bomb exploded in front of our house. When he saw the photo of the damage, one single bomb against his family was enough for him to order over 200 bomb attacks, that’s why the violence started growing.
There was one other thing that escalated the violence. The Columbian state also used violence to combat him so he felt that the state’s action delegitimised human rights and my sister and I were in prison. I was 7 and my sister was 2 years old. We were imprisoned because of my father’s crimes. So, increasingly, he found excuses to be violent.
He says Columbia authorities aren’t real interested in peace or of talking about what happened, because the trail would inevitably lead to them to.
You are threatening to expose people?
Absolutely not. I’ve received a number of offers to abuse the position I have, to destroy democracy and I never abused that to damage anyone.
I’m here to build not to destroy. I would shut up all my life, if they leave me in peace.
I have met many more victims of my father. They are ready for reconciliation, to forgive. To forgive is an act of liberation, it is a healing act.
This is what my country needs to get out of the cycle of violence. The Columbian establishment should not be afraid of peace and reconciliation.