Jeff Zimbalist’s film, The Two Escobars, focuses on two of the most important people in Colombia from the 1980’s to the early 1990’s. One of these men was Andres Escobar who was at the time the most famous soccer player in all of Colombia and he helped lead the national team to the World Cup in 1994 (it was the first time they had qualified for it in 28 years). However, due to his “own goal” that eliminated the country from the World Cup, he was murdered when he returned to Colombia. The other man is Pablo Escobar who was the leader of the Medellin Cartel and he helped the cocaine trafficking business boom during the time period as well as spread it to the U.S. and other parts of the world. After watching the film The Two Escobars, I believe that Pablo Escobar was indeed a criminal mastermind whose horrific crimes gave the country of Colombia a bad image.
Part of Pablo Escobar’s “infamy” has to do with his involvement in the cocaine trafficking business. In 1975, after years of committing many lesser crimes as a teenager/young adult, Escobar began his involvement in the cocaine trafficking business. Escobar’s involvement in this business lead to the creation of one of the most notorious organizations in the entire world, the Medellin Cartel. As the head of the cartel, Escobar was involved in many negotiations with mafias worldwide about buying and selling drugs (such as the Italian, Russian, and U.S. mafias). As a result of these talks with mafias worldwide, the cartel exported millions of tons of cocaine all over the world to places such as the U.S., the Caribbean, and even as far as Asia. As a result of the millions of tons of cocaine the cartel exported, Escobar and the Medellin Cartel were able to make over 3 billion dollars in profit. One internet source states that “At the height of his empire, Escobar was estimated by Forbes magazine to be the seventh-richest man in the world along with his organization the Medellin Cartel…” (Pablo Escobar Tour- The Medellin Cartel). However, this high level of cocaine trafficking did lead to many nations wanting Escobar arrested but it wasn’t until Len Bias the NBA rookie phenomenon died of a cocaine-induced heart attack that the U.S. began its involvement with the world to rid it of Pablo Escobar and the Medeliin Cartel.
Pablo Escobar’s involvement with the Colombian soccer teams Atletico Nacional and Medellin helped make Escobar “infamous”. Due to the large amounts of money that Escobar and the cartel were receiving they had to find a way to be able to legalize the money that they were making so they could continue to do finance their business. That’s when they decided to turn to soccer. With soccer, millions of dollars in cash were being transferred in transactions between teams making trades for players and people buying tickets to go to the matches. So the owner of a team was able to say that they made 3 million dollars in ticket sales when they really made only one million dollars to legalize two million dollars that the cartel made that can now be used freely by the cartel and the team. This method of lying about how much money a person or team received is called money laundering and it’s a serious crime. According to Jeff Zimbalist’s film The Two Escobars, due to the ability of people to gain millions of dollars from money laundering, Escobar partnered up with the teams Atletico Nacional and Medellin in order to commit money laundering. Although as a result of these crimes both clubs were able to get better as a result of all this money coming into the organization, they (as well as Escobar and the country of Colombia) were scrutinized for their partnership. When the cartel finally collapsed and the money stopped coming in for the teams, the people associated with crimes were arrested and charged with money laundering and the clubs began to decline due to an inability to keep their star players.
While Pablo Escobar was in charge of the Medellin cartel, he plotted and committed many gruesome acts of violence on his country. One reason that he committed these acts of violence was because he wanted to eliminate people that were a serious threat to the cartel. One of these crimes was the assassination of the Minister of Justice Lara Bonilla who was killed due to him removing Escobar from the House of Representatives due to him trying to lower the nation’s morals. According to Jeff Zimbalist’s film The Two Escobars, after the Minister of Justice’s murder, Luis Carlos Galan was also assassinated for openly speaking of how he supported the former Minister of Justice’s belief on extradition. Another violent act that Escobar committed was the massive bombing of the DAS building in Bogota in 1989 which killed hundreds of people. The reason he committed this crime is because the DAS is the United States version of the FBI and this organization was one of the main groups that was trying to take down not only Pablo Escobar, but the entire cartel. Another reason that he committed these acts was because to get even with people that betrayed the cartel. The most common crime the Escobar committed for these people was the Colombian necktie. What happens is that the person’s neck is sliced open with a machete and then his/her tongue is pulled down his/her throat and out of the open wound to resemble a “necktie”. This was done to people as a warning to others as a way of saying “This is what’ll happen to you if you betray the cartel.”
Pablo Escobar was able to use his money and the influential power of the cartel to buy power in the Colombian government. When the cartel became notorious around the world the United States began to use the policy of extradition which is bringing someone in from another country to stand trial for the crime(s) he/she committed in the U.S. When this occurred Pablo knew that he had to figure out a way to get Colombia to ban extradition because he knew that if they didn’t, the U.S. would extradite Pablo back to the U.S. to stand trial if he was caught. Escobar expressed his view with this famous quote on the issue: “Sooner a grave in Colombia, than a jail in the U.S.”. In order for Escobar to outlaw extradition he began to bribe judges and ministers with money to get them to vote for the abolition of the extradition treaty. In Jeff Zimbalist’s film The Two Escobars, Pablo Escobar used a very interesting quote to describe this time: “Plata o plomo.” This means in English “Silver or lead.” What the quote means is that you either accept the money and vote to end extradition or you choose the lead, which symbolizes bullets, and you get killed like the other politicians before you who said that. In the end, the majority of the politicians choose the “silver” and the government voted to abolish extradition. Thus, allowing Pablo Escobar to continue committing crimes against the majority of the world without fear of being shipped to the U.S. to face trial and most likely face the death penalty.
After watching the movie The Two Escobars I was convinced that Pablo Escobar was a murderous drug lord who gave the country of Colombia a very bad reputation as a “drug country”. Pablo Escobar founded the Medellin Cartel and began to traffic tons and tons of cocaine all over the world. Escobar’s involvement with Colombian soccer teams made him become even more “infamous”. Pablo plotted and committed various acts of violence against the citizens of Colombia. He also used his money and the cartel’s influential authority to buy power in the Colombian government. Although Pablo Escobar is dead and the Medellin Cartel is all but dissolved now, Escobar’s murderous lifestyle caused many events/actions to occur in history in the last 30-40 years. That’s why I view Pablo Escobar as a criminal mastermind and a murderous drug lord.