Pablo Escobar, narco-terrorist and head of the Medellin Cartel, was shot on a roof in Medellin, Colombia in 1993 ending one of the most violent and profitable crime sprees in history. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) the scale of the murder and mayhem the “King of Cocaine” unleashed, you still see Escobar’s face around Colombia. Take, for example, the sticker with his face on it along with the words “El Patron” that we spotted on a bus in Medellin. It’s all part of the complicated legend of Pablo Escobar.

El Patron Pablo Escobar sticker Medellin, Colombia

The enduring legend of Pablo Escobar is a confusing and complicated thing, as evidenced by the “El Patron” sticker with the narco terrorist’s face on it that we spotted on a public bus in Medellin.

To many Colombians, particularly residents of poor comunas whom Escobar helped by building schools, backing soccer teams, etc, the world’s most notorious drug lord is an enduring legend and even a hero to some. To many others he was a monster. Either way, fascination with Pablo Escobar endures.

Is Hollywood to blame?

Hollywood can’t get enough of Escobar. Many movies have been made based on Escobar’s story including “American Made” starring tom Cruise. Benicio del Toro starred in Escobar: Paradise Lost. And the Netflix original series “Narcos” is going strong. Colombian media produces its share of Escobar entertainment too, including an excellent mega-series made by Colombia’s Caracol Television called “Patron del Mal.”

The legend of Pablo Escobar has even inspired a controversial form of narco tourism in Colombia, which we wrote about for

For travelers in Colombia, seeing Escobar’s face can be confusing, like spotting a bus in Chicago with an Al Capone sticker on it. But the Escobar issue is fresher and more complicated than Capone and remains confusing terrain for Colombians as well, many of whom are still trying to figure out where Escobar belongs in their history. In the meantime, the Escobar legend continues.

Grave of Pablo Escobar Medellin

Pablo Escobar’s grave in Medellin is part of a controversial form of narco tourism in Colombia.

Here’s more about travel in Colombia


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