The former stronghold of late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is to be demolished. Authorities in the city of Medellin plan to replace the building with a park dedicated to the victims of narcotics trafficking.
The stronghold, known as the Monaco building, is to be razed to the ground with explosives in a show for the public.
Plans are in place to turn the property into a commemorative space to remember victims of the illegal drug trade who were killed during the 1980s and 1990s in a bloody war with authorities.
«The Monaco building will fall,» Medellin’s city hall tweeted ahead of the planned demolition. «It’s not about erasing history but starting to tell it from the right side; that of the victims and the innocent heroes.»
With a proliferation of books, the hit Netflix series Narcos, and the tours of Escobar’s old haunts in Medellin, some city residents worry that the drug lord’s life is being glorified by a younger generation that didn’t live through the violence.
Escobar was, at one point according to Forbes magazine, one of the world’s richest men. He was killed in a rooftop shootout with police in 1993.
Groups of tourists visit the Monaco building, constructed in the swish El Poblado district in the 1980s, on a daily basis. The building was bombed in 1988, by Escobar’s underworld rivals, and he abandoned it not long afterward.
‘Respect our pain’
The «cocaine king» is remembered by some in Colombia as something of a Robin Hood figure because of his charity work, and the distribution of part of his vast wealth to Medellin’s poor.
However, according to Medellin officials, Colombia’s drug violence killed 46,612 people from 1983 to 1994, with Escobar at the center of much of it. Since 2018, visitors to the building have been confronted by posters that inform them of the grim tally of deaths that included civilians, police, journalists, and judges.
«Respect our pain, honor our victims,» says one such poster.
In a 2015 interview with DW, Escobar’s son said his father was no hero.
The destruction of the Monaco building not the first time part of the history of the Medellin drug cartel has been consigned to the past. At the end of January, a replica of the first plane that was used to smuggle a cargo of cocaine into the United States was removed from another of Escobar’s former properties, Hacienda Napoles.
The 20-square-kilometer (7.7-square-mile) ranch, which included a zoo a private airport and a bullring, has also been made into a park.