Roberto Escobar Gaviria, the older brother of the infamous Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, opened up in an exclusive interview with the Greek Reporter which was held at one of Pablos’s last residences overlooking Medellin.
Nicknamed El Osito (“Little Bear”), Roberto served as the former accountant of the notorious Medellin Cartel, which was responsible for up to 80 percent of the cocaine once smuggled into the United States.
Asked by the Greek Reporter’s Anastasios Papapostolou what he has to say to the thousands of victims who suffered and died during the turbulent years of the cartel’s operations, he says:
“We are the victims of this story… They put a bomb in my cell in a high-security prison… That’s the story I want the world to know. In a war, everyone is a victim, everyone is a winner and a loser.”
Roberto was imprisoned for his part in the cartel’s operations. He escaped with his brother in July of 1992 but surrendered to authorities one year later. He was blinded in one eye by a letter bomb on December 18, 1993, while still in prison. Roberto was released after serving just over ten years.
“All human beings make mistakes. What counts is not kneeling down for forgiveness. What matters is not making the same mistakes again,” the former drug kingpin states defiantly.
Roberto denies that he is a violent person, saying “I have never been violent, never had issues with anyone. On the contrary, I am a reconciling person.”
Escobar also denies that he was the brain behind the cartel: “No truth in that. Our family has all been very smart. We are people that have gone from nothing, from walking with ripped shoes to school, to become one of the richest people in the planet like my brother,” he states.
Watch the full interview:
He also claims that his family members were actually victims of the brutal civil war raging in Colombia at the time when he and his brother were young boys.
“When I was five and my brother was three, we were victims of the violence. Guerrillas showed up to kill my father because he was from a liberal town. But my father was not a politician,” he recalls.
“I remember my mother began praying. They busted the door open and they were going to kill all of us, they were going to burn us alive… Pablo, my sister Gloria and myself, we were saved in the nick of time by the army. They put us in a truck and send us to Medellin. And that’s when we began living a different life,” he states.
According to Roberto, the biggest mistake his brother made was getting into politics. “It was only then that they started to go after the whole family,” he explains.
Pablo Escobar was killed in a rooftop shootout with police and army soldiers in Medellin on December 2, 1993, one day after his 44th birthday and five months after he had appeared on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest people — for the seventh time.
A guide nicknamed El Indio (“The Indian”) that today works with the older Escobar took Greek Reporter around the house where Pablo Escobar once lived, and where he celebrated his last birthday.
The property occupies a strategic position overlooking the Medellin airport. El Indio explains that, during the drug smuggling years, Pablo used a communication system they called “Cali Walkie Talkie” to speak directly with pilots and give them instructions on what to do with the “merchandise” after they landed at some illegal airport.
El Indio says that whenever the army was planning an operation to arrest Pablo, he would know of the plans beforehand. Escobar had informers within the highest echelons of the local police, and if need be, he could hide in an underground crypt operated by remote control, with oxygen cylinders and plenty of food.
According to the guide, it was almost impossible to find even a gram of cocaine in the city while the cartel was active in Medellin. “We produced tons of cocaine, yet to find a gram it was very difficult,” he maintains.
He claims Pablo actually hated cocaine. He used to say: “I prefer to send that poison to Europeans and Americans, but my people here are not going to be poisoned with this.”
Roberto Escobar told Papapostolou that he “loves Greece… When I was in Greece, I thought it was a beautiful country… one of the most beautiful in the world. I have Greek friends in Medellin.”
He reveals that he and his brother had even visited Greece while they were fugitives from justice. They also did business with people in Greece, but then adds, “I won’t say more, or give names…”