Photo: Raúl Arboleda / EFE
The escape 30 years ago of the head of the Medellín Cartel, Pablo Escobarof La Catedral, the luxurious prison that he himself ordered to be built on a mountain near that city, is one of the greatest affronts in Colombia because it was the demonstration that drug trafficking permeated politics, the economy, justice, the Police and the army.
This is what the writer assures in an interview with Efe Rafael Ballenauthor of “Pablo Escobar’s Escape”a novel that collects that episode and that is based on an investigation he did when he was delegate attorney for the Military Forces.
“The 30 years of the escape are coming to an end, of that affront that society and the Colombian State had of seeing how a man had built his own prison, had gotten in there and lived like a king, with his people, and had great bacchanalsand the moment he wanted to leave the Cathedral he left”, says Ballén.
The book also includes Pablo Escobar’s relationship with the mafias of the United States, as well as the minute-by-minute schedule of the escape, from 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 1992 until 11:20 p.m. all told by its protagonists.
Pablo Escobar Gaviria, the most feared drug trafficker in Colombia, surrendered to justice on June 19, 1991 and he escaped from the Cathedral 405 days lateron July 21, 1992.
The Cathedral, which was previously a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, was occupied by Escobar and nine of his closest lieutenants after sealing an agreement with the then Colombian president, Cesar Gaviriafor which the head of the drug cartel agreed to go to jail in exchange for the government revoking an extradition treaty with the United States.
Regarding the leak, “public opinion at this time does not know if it was at 11 at night or the next day, the 22nd. It really was on the 21st at 11 at night when the fog was very thick and it it ate all the light from the lanterns or from the bulbs that were around the Cathedral,” says Ballén.
The writer recalls that Escobar decided to leave “his luxury hotel” because he knew that the Colombian government was going to change his place of detention. when verifying that he continued to commit crimes from the Cathedral, since from there he moved his criminal emporium, murdered his enemies, received visits from politicians, artists, beauty queens and even soccer players.
The prison, made to measure for the capo, gave him a view of Medellín because it was on a mountain in the La Catedral hamlet, which is part of Envigado, a city near the capital of Antioquia. They had luxurious rooms, multiple game rooms, a gymdoll houses, a natural waterfall and even a soccer field, all with expensive finishes and fenced with electrified mesh, which made the place a fortress for the capo.
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