Colombia seems most closely associated in American minds with drug cartels in general and Pablo Escobar in particular. Medellin was Escobar’s city and the first place I landed in Colombia. What had become the murder capitol of the most violent country in the world in the 80s and 90s, is now a modern international hub that is safer than many American cities. A few comunas (hillside barrios), far from the city centers, are still controlled by gangs and these account for most all violent crime in Medellin today.
The myth of Escobar* continues to stir the imagination, however, and attempts to capitalize on his exploits and the Medellin cartel abound, not only in the form of narco-tours (some of these include Escobar’s family members and others from the Medellin Cartel), but also in the proliferation of books, movies and tv shows that variously memorialize or fictionalize the era.