Pablo Escobar was one of the most infamous of the Colombian cocaine kingpins of the 1980s. Known in his country as “El Patron”, he was the undisputed head of the Medellin Drug Cartel. Besides drug dealing, he was implicated in dozen of murders connected to his drug trade and other illegal activities. Escobar became a larger than life figure in Colombia. At the height of his power, he was worth billions of dollars, was elected to the House of Representatives in Colombia’s National Congress. While seen as an enemy of the United States and Colombian governments, Escobar was a hero to many in Medellín (especially the poor people); he was a natural at public relations, and he worked to create goodwill among the poor people of Colombia. A lifelong sports fan, he was credited with building football(soccer) fields and multipurpose courts, as well as sponsoring children’s football teams. He worked hard to cultivate his Robin Hood image, and frequently distributed money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities, which gained him notable popularity among the poor. The population of Medellín often helped Escobar serving as lookouts, hiding information from the authorities, or doing whatever else they could do to protect him.
Following his death in late 1993 in a shootout with Colombian National Police, Escobar’s widow, Maria Victoria Henao (now Maria Isabel Santos Caballero), son, Juan Pablo (now Juan Sebastian Marroquín Santos), and daughter, Manuela, fled Colombia and settled in Argentina.
A year after appearing in the Argentinian documentary, Sins of the Father, in 2009, Juan Pablo emerged to the world with a fashion line built on the legacy of “El Patron”. Escobar Henao is a line of designer jeans with secret pockets and sleek T-shirts featuring his father’s old Ids and bank ledgers inscribed with phrases such as “Some investments never balance out. Do yours?”
According to the company’s Facebook page, “we are a solid, humane, original and successful company. We create pieces under the most demanding quality standards, as powerful communication tools passing on inviting messages to humanity, in order to encourage a society that respects and retrieves values’. The company manufacturers but does not sell its products in Colombia where Juan Pablo’s father is still equally considered a saint and the devil by large portions of the population. Escobar Henao does sell its product in Mexico and Guatemala, two countries currently bleeding as the result of drug cartel activities. In the current issue of Playboy(September 2013), Juan Pablo when asked about this, stated, “Mexican mothers write to us, grateful for this project. They hope their kids see me as a living example that they don’t have to follow my father’s footsteps.”
Juan Pablo hopes that those buying the clothing see them as “messages of peace” and not an endorsement of his father’s criminal activity. He also wants purchasers to remember that the sale of these items create jobs in Colombia and hopes for the country’s future as part of the proceeds also go to charitable organizations.