LOVING PABLO,HATING ESCOBAR
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Author: Virginia Vallejo
Total Pages: 456
Total approximate words: 123,120
So, 2019 was a lot of binge watching for me. Thanks to my hectic job, and my sister’s generosity that I would be too tired to leave my room during my rest days, and ended up watching free Netflix, other than sleeping and eating. From those slumbering days, I discovered many hidden gems from this pandora box called the Netflix. There was this special section of series, based on real life events that really caught my eye. The Spy, When They See Us, Unbelievable, Ted Bundy Tapes, Narcos, Narcos Mexico, to name just a few of those gems. The kind of absolute nerd that I am, after watching such series or movies I usually look for the book with the same title. And guess what I found! Watching Narcos, the series, I was hoping to find a book written by one of its protagonists, but instead I found two books, ‘Sins of my Father’, by Juan Pablo Escobar, son of Pablo Escobar (the drug kingpin of Colombia) and ‘Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar’, by Virginia Vallejo, Colombia’s most famous Television host during the 1970s and 1980s, and one of Pablo Escober’s many lovers. The later was available in amazon for sale, and within the next two weeks, I got my own copy of a version of the ‘Narcos’, to be kept with the rest of my treasures, hopefully for the rest of my life. (Pro tip: Narcos is a pretty cool series to watch in Netflix, if you haven’t watched it yet.)
Virginia Vallejo, meets Pablo for the first time in his place, Hacienda Napoles in 1982, when she visits the estate with her then fiancé, Anibal Turbay, the nephew of the ex-president of Columbia. A few weeks from then, Escobar invites Anibal to visit the Hacienda of Jorge Luis Ochoa, Escobar’s best friend. Through her cocaine snorting fiancé, Virginia comes to know that cocaine was the real deal, and weed was not even enough to pay for a private runway, and that was why the Davilas, king of Marijuana greased everyone’s palm to reopen the Santa Marta airport in the night, to dispatch planes loaded with what was famed as the world’s best marijuana.
Now that Virginia and Pablo were secretly lovers, she was travelling between Bogota and Medellin for work and to be with him. She talks fondly of the next fifteen months as the two spend more and more time together. Through one of these meetings, that she meets Guastavo Gavieria, Pablo’s cousin and business partner. Unlike Pablo, Guastavo was inscrutable, silent, secretive, distant, and much more mature than him. Pablo tells her about his ambition, from the time he was a small kid, which was to be the richest man in Colombia, and then be the most popular political leader of all times.
When Virginia interviews Pablo in one of the poorer neighborhoods, after he donated a number of basket ball courts to such neighborhoods, she sees Pablo’s twenty-three years old wife for the first time with him. Through Escobar, Virginia is acquainted with news that usually the media didn’t have access to. In 1983, Virginia was one of the first few people who came to know about the plane crash that killed the head of the M-19, an insurgent group, who was travelling with a cash of USD 600,000. While Escobar’s men found out the crash site in a few hours, the Colombian government took nine months to recover the bodies.
Julio Mario Santo Domingo, one of Virginia’s ex, introduces her to David Metcalf, grandson of Lord Curzon. Virginia who was madly in love with Pablo, felt nothing for Metcalf, no matter how royal he was. Around the same time, the president appoints a new minister of justice, Rodrigo Lara, who immediately accuses Escobar of drug trafficking and having ties with the guerilla groups. Escobar’s parliamentary immunity is lifted, and an arrest warrant is issued. The American government revokes his tourist visa and the Colombian government seizes all the exotic animals from the zoo in Hycianda Napoles. All these leads Escobar into partial hiding. And then Virginia meets Rodriguez Orijuela, head of the Cali Cartel.
The time that followed, the ‘palm greasing’ didn’t work anymore and the Colombian government, with the army’s help, confiscated planes, helicopters, yachts of drug dealers, and arrested hundreds of people involved in it.
Meanwhile, Virginia meets Gilberto Rodriguez Orijuela, who she mentions as the friend of the bureaucrats and the elite, very unlike Escobar, also with whom she develops a fleeting affair.
The new minister of Justice, Enrique Perejo enforces extradition of money launderers to the U.S., which leads the king of Cocaine to form Los Extraditables, a group whose only agenda was to oppose extradition of Colombian criminals to the States. The DEA goes full fledged into collecting evidence of drug trafficking, and becomes successful to do so. The U.S. government gets photographic evidence of Escobar and Rodriguez Gacha loading seven and half tons of coke into a plane.
In the days that follow, Virginia gets more and more afraid for the love of her life, as Pablo Escobar becomes the most wanted man in the world.
When Virginia gets an offer to work for a Miami based television channel for USD 5000, Escobar offers her USD 80,000 to just be at home until she finds a producer who knew her worth. He also introduces her to the founder of the M-19 insurgent group. As an effort to not be extradited, Escobar gives the man a million dollar to destroy all the evidences (six thousand files) against him at the Palace of Justice.
By the end of 1985, Escobar becomes the reason for the one hundred killings in the Palace of Justice, and the massacre in Armero, killing twenty-five thousand people more, other than the many, many mores. Viginia finally decides to severe all ties with this man. In 1993, eleven years after they met for the first time, Pablo Escobar is killed in a shoot out with the police.
Lines that I really loved
“How marvelous people are to me when I leave Colombia, because in other countries, it is not a crime to always look radiant with happiness.”
“But how could a man have such a beauty, such a queen, such a goddess, as a girlfriend? A woman like you is for marrying! You tend her needs every day and never look at another woman again for the rest of your life.”
“What is the formula for cocaine, Gilberto?”
“Yes, he has never accepted that in this business, like everything in life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Someone steals two hundred kilos here, three hundred kilos there… and you resign yourself, because what else can you do? He, on the other hand…. every time someone steals five kilos, he leaves five people dead! At that rate, he’s going to kill off all of humanity!”
“While it’s true his best quality is his unique ability to anticipate everything that’s bearing down on him and to prepare a crushing counterattack, his worst defect is an utter lack of humility in recognizing and correcting his mistakes, and an even greater inability to measure the consequences of his actions.”
If you like reading memoirs, this book is worth your time. Even though the book is a translation from its original published language Spanish, the narration isn’t lost in the transition, like one might assume. It is the memoir of one of the famous media personalities of Colombia and her links to the most dangerous man of the world; so the story is a lot about events happening in chronological order surrounding ministers, and famous men and women. May be that’s why it has less of a personal touch and more of the ‘glam’ quotient in it. Of all the memoirs that I have read of famous personalities, this one stands out differently, but in a good way. I would give it an overall rating of 7/10.
Ease of reading: 7/10
Writing style (to keep the reader engaged): 7/10
Resonating to the reader (moving, and relatable): 6.5/10
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This review is based on my personal reading of the book and understanding it with my own limited experiences. This review is just a singular perspective and not the only one.