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An Intimate Investigation

Book Title: Pablo Escobar, my Father

Author: Juan Pablo Escobar

Genre: Biography/non-fiction


A psychological study understands the child’s behaviour towards negative traits displayed by the parental figure to be either an expectation of normality or a lesson to avoid, Escobar’s blunt retelling of his father’s life can be encapsulated by his dedicative quote “to my father, who showed me what path not to take”.


Hitherto Escobar’s recount, the media has conjured various assumptions on Pablo Escobar. Tales of love, blood and money dirtied the Escobar name, causing Juan Pablo; his mother Maria and sister, Manuela to flee in fear of death. After two years in veritable isolation, Juan Pablo Escobar endeavoured to set the record straight by telling the story of a husband, a Colombian philanthropist, a father.


As a juvenile criminal Pablo Escobar’s ambition towered above the norm. The book mentions numerous goals set by himself, such as to earn a million pesos by the age of thirty – little did he know, his drug empire milked billions. His ruthless business acumen dominated the Medellin cartels, allotting unpretentious gangs’ minimal popularity. Sadly, the life of any drug dealer is short-lived – the second of December 1993 marked the end of Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria’s life, with a piercing bullet ending his dealings on a Medellin rooftop.


Juan Pablo’s childhood (best identified with) Juan Pablo led a luxurious life. His unimaginable privilege consisted of private zoos; extravagant holidays; several “homes” and Hacienda Napoles. At a tender age, Juan understood that he would never be normal. Being the first born and only son to Pablo Escobar, he felt immense pressure to uphold his family name. His early determination warmed his fathers’ heart, making him the apple of his eye, his “Miguelito” (a special pet name given to Juan Pablo, meaning angel).


Young Juan Pablo lived in constant trepidation. As opposed to conventional child development, Juan and Manuela experienced private home-schooling; butlers at their beck and call; restricted communication with society and overindulged desires being fulfilled. Like his father, they too lived in isolation, with a coterie of bodyguards.


Pablo and politics

The book is the calamity in the storm, Juan’s mature thinking outshone his impulsive fathers’. Amongst Pablo’s desirous goals, was the swearing in of presidency. Contemplating his substantial power in the economy and military forces, he believed presidency would give him double the power, leniency, and success. His infamous “plata o plomo” (money or bullets) philosophy invited the possibility of corruption and violence into the Columbian Congress – immediately shunning his court appeals and forcing a public attack on him to resign his seat. This bullying – of sorts – insinuated bombs and mediated murders to escape Pablo’s mind, in effort to fight the country’s extradition law.


The aftermath

Juan Pablo never sided with his father’s wrongdoings; he simply added an unseen perspective – that of a caring side. The book emphasizes on forgiveness – in forgiving his father and pleading for forgiveness. An underlying message of “don’t judge a book by its cover” is echoed in his words. A surprising agreement in his father’s death is strongly heard – in the eyes of a son, consenting the humiliating; heart-breaking and hurtful death of your father, is inconceivably difficult.


Upon the disturbing news of his father’s death, Juan Pablo was devastated. The deafening cries of his mother shattered his teenage heart. Dealing with the considerable trauma, Juan Pablo was coerced into leading a simplistic life. He opened on battling with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), having been born into bloodshed; infidelity; bullying and mockery – his life ended before it began.


Months in therapy, encouraged him to make peace with his fathers’ enemies. For a child to sweep up the broken glass of a parent is many things, unfair being the greatest. He spent his second government-approved visit to Columbia amending broken ties and waving white flags.


Lessons learned

As mentioned above, the strongest message portrayed in the novel, is the necessity of change. Whether it was Juan Pablo choosing to opt for the life his father never gave him, or Pablo himself choosing to step outside of his comfort zone.


Conclusion

I was amazed at Pablo’s generosity. His aid in the poverty-stricken parts of his home country, often is forgotten. Juan Pablo beautifully depicted a man in love with his country and family. Pablo’s dignity was upheld in hearing his persuasion in children soccer games rather than turning to drugs, it’s these little things that made Juan Pablo proud to call him “dad”.


To this day, some cartels have not forgiven Juan Pablo for his father’s actions. He understands that not everyone will forgive him, but his unwavering effort in redeeming his name, gave him an opportunity to forgive himself. A quote recounts that rock-bottom is the perfect foundation for a life to be rebuilt upon – all proceeds from his father’s empire was seized by the DEA and Columbian authorities. The man he is today, is the man he has created. An uncomplicated man, an architect, a father.


Changes

Juan Pablo focused on documenting his father’s life – the good and bad, as opposed to having heard allegations of Pablo Escobar on various media outlets, I would have appreciated more insight in his life; his story, and his mindset.


Recommendation

This is an informative and professionally written tribute to Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. You can feel the heartbreak of a man who deeply loved his father yet torn apart by the reputation and legacy his actions have left him.

The book is a confident share of Pablo, it is a culmination of forgiveness and the human spirit to keep trying. It is a story of two fathers, it’s a story of love. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in justice, values, family and the narco world.

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