Sebastian Marroquín, son of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, at Nagarik Network's office at Kamaladi in Kathmandu on Saturday. Photo: Republica
KATHMANDU, Sept 16: As a child, he had it all: a loving dad, a kind mom, happy childhood, mind-boggling wealth and a vast expanse of imperial residence, the Hacienda Nápoles.
The Hacienda Nápoles covered 20 square kilometers of posh area in Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia Department, in Columbia. Inside the residential premises were a private zoo with many exotic residents: including antelope, elephants, giraffes, hippos, ostriches, ponies and numerous species of birds, a private airport, a sculpture park, kart-racing track and a large collection of vintage and luxury cars and motorbikes.
As Sebastian Marroquín [his new name] looks back, his family lived in a world of fantasy in their native home in Colombia. "That world collapsed quickly," says Juan Pablo Escobar, son of infamous Colombian drug lord and founder of Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar. Supplying an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled in the United States, Pablo was estimated to have a net worth of US$ 30 billion in 1993.
My father was not a hero...there is a lot to learn from the past and from his story. -- Sebastian Marroquín, son of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar
Marroquín was seven years old when he came to know that his father was a "drug bandit", a word that he couldn't comprehend as a child. His father ran the drug world and knew what it took to keep his family safe. As a result, when Juan was between seven to nine years, Pablo introduced him to different types of cocaine and told him what each did to the body. "He did so because he didn't want me to get into the drug world," he said. “He loved us,” said 41-year old Marroquin, who was in Nepal recently.
An architect by profession, Marroquin has been living with his family in Palermo Soho in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires. However, he wishes to go back to his native home and live with his family peacefully.
Marroquín remembers his father's words, "A great man is the one who doesn't do drugs...and when you become curious about it, just call me and we will do them together.” While Pablo ran the biggest drug cartel in the world, he personally tried only marijuana. He never tried heroin because he was aware of how addictive it could be.
"He was a loving father, very clever and full of love for me, my sister and my mom. But he couldn't live up to his words in life," he said. He now sees his father's legacy as a lesson that could help to prevent more carnage and violence.
"I've seen how violence, money and drugs can ruin a life," Marroquín said.
Juan renamed himself as Sebastian Marroquín, a name he ran across in a telephone directory when he was conversing with his father, Pablo on December 2, 1993. That day, his father blew his cover after talking for long with Sebastian on the telephone. Pablo's location was tracked and the Colombian National Police surrounded the Medellin Cartel's compound. Pablo was shot dead by the police as he fled to the rooftops from his hideout.
When his father was killed, Sebastian, in a live interview, had vowed to take revenge and kill all those involved. "But after 10 minutes, I had realized it and I didn't want to be a part of the drugs world," Marroquín said.
A HAUNTING PAST
Juan changed his name to Sebastian because the tag of Pablo Escobar barred his family from seeking refuge across the world. Eventually, the family was granted tourist visa in Argentina where they now live. "We couldn't enter any country just because of the name," Marroquín said in an exclusive interview with myrepublica.com.
Juan has lived as Sebastian for 25 years. Yet, his past, including that of his father continues to haunt him even as an architect, even when people know that he has the talent.
"It's not very common for me to get work as an architect because there are a lot of tragedies with my family's story, and almost everybody thinks that I am just another Pablo Escobar,” says Marroquín, an author, t-shirt entrepreneur, and architect who has been quietly practising at the Argentine firm Box Arquitectura since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Many times people say no to me because of the prejudice they have against my father's story. But some of them understand that I chose another path.”
His past has haunted him more after Netflix's Narcos, a series documenting Escobar's rise and fall within his drug world was aired on August 28, 2015. Since then, Marroquín has received many phone calls and messages from people who were awed by his father and wanted to be just like him because it was 'fun'. "I tell them it is not fun."
"My father was not a hero...there is a lot to learn from the past and from his story."