A Visit to Pablo Escobar’s Prison, La Catedral, Part III

posted on December 1st, 2015 in Colombia, Life and Death in the Andes (New Book), Pablo Escobar

Pablo Escobar dead

Pablo Escobar, Muerto, by Fernando Botero

From my travel journal: Medellín, Antioquia:

My driver and I walk about the prison area, the air fresh from the recent rains, the sun out now, El Poblado like an erector set of pink rectangular skyscrapers set amidst dark green slopes below; we walk past the guard towers, once staffed by guards Escobar had hired, past abundant vines with light green leaves and silver-dollar-sized orange flowers, then approach a giant cement wall, part of the prison that Pablo built. On the lower wall is a giant billboard of sorts, with a photo reproduction of Pablo in prison wearing a Russian fur hat, behind the very bars he had paid for; above and behind the prison are thickly- forested hills, offering avenues of easy escape, which Escobar took advantage of the night that he fled the prison and went into hiding again.

The Benedictines have fastened, here and there, plaques with moral lessons for visitors, such as “He who kills another without authority or just cause condemns himself to death.” Or another, this one fastened onto the wall of a ruined building: “Ruins of what was [once] one of the pleasure rooms, with its round, revolving bed, of Mr. Pablo Emilio Escobar.”

The problem was: money could buy Pablo everything–except for the respectability he craved and a long life. His life was cut short with a hail of bullets at the age of 44.

Pablo Escobar Prison, La Catedral

Pablo Escobar’s “La Catedral” prison


Next up:  Colombia: Amid the Sacred and Profane