Source: Public Domain Images
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Pablo Escobar is something of a legend. Whether that’s a good legend or a bad, notoriously awful one depends largely on whether you lived in Colombia during his tenure as the seventh-richest man in the world due to his nasty little habit of being the world’s biggest cocaine dealer.
How Did Hippos Get To Colombia?
During Colombia’s presidential election in 1989, three of the six candidates for the highest office were assassinated, believed to be the work of Escobar’s men. Politicians who spoke out against the Medellin drug cartels were dropping at a rate of about one a day at one point, making it clear who ran the country. It was not a benevolent dictatorship at all.
The sitting president at the time, Virgilio Barco, announced he’d allow drug traffickers to be extradited to the United States to face trial for their work, shipping literal tons of cocaine and other drugs north and fueling rates of addiction and death in North America.
Source: National Police of Colombia
The Colombian government also said it would begin freezing and confiscating any and all assets of known drug traffickers, a bold-sounding effort that sounded really good on paper but had no more staying power than a thin bandage on a limb blown off by a landmine.
Steal From The Rich, Give To The Poor:
While all this was going on, the people in Colombia’s poorer communities saw Escobar as a godlike, merciful and generous man.
Sure, he bought himself several miles worth of land and built a compound complete with both a runway and a helipad (how else was he going to fly his drugs around and get them into the U.S.?).
But he sponsored football teams and paid for lighting at stadiums so kids could play longer. He was repeatedly called a Robin Hood-like figure, using his drug money to provide some peace and stability to the communities that were scraping by, just barely, until his money started making life a little less awful.
Source: Nigel Burgher / Wikimedia
Escobar built houses in areas where people had been living in shacks or huts. At one point, Escobar’s worth was estimated at about $30 billion, bringing in millions of dollars every single day.
Dollar Dollar Bills (Or Pesos, Actually):
When he was younger, Escobar said it was his goal to have $1 million in Colombian pesos by the time he was 22; on his 26th birthday, he had a bank deposit of $100 million.
It’s astonishing but true: Not only did Escobar’s men go through $1,000 per week in rubber bands alone, to keep their wads of cash orderly, each year, they’d have to write of 10% of their money because they had so much of it, socked away here and there, that rats would get in to the stashes and eat the bills.