Associated Press reports, In MEDELLIN, Colombia A six-floor apartment building that Escobar once called home was blasted Friday in a moving ceremony that officials hope will discourage some of the fervor for the famous drug lord’s criminal life and rather showcase the city’s rebirth.
Rogelio Gomez, the engineer who was the in charge of the demolition, said that 180 detonators were used to overthrow the Monaco building and a 328-foot security zone was designated around the area.
“1,500 people who live nearby were evacuated for security,” Gomez said. The explosion took place at 11:53 local time and sent a cloud of dust 33 feet into the air.
Colombian President Ivan Duque, who was still a teenager when Escobar was killed in 1993 in a rooftop shootout with police, said the explosion “means that history is not going to be written in terms of the perpetrators but by recognizing the victims.”
The white building which was made with all concrete in Medellin’s leafy Poblado neighborhood was rocked by a car bomb in 1988 and has remained an empty eyesore ever since, drawing mostly foreign tourists who sign up every day for tours of Escobar’s former hometown ghosts. The Netflix “Narcos” series has also made him more famous and such attractions.
But Mayor Federico Gutierrez had been struggling to destroy the building and erect in its place a park honoring the thousands of victims, including four presidential candidates and some 500 police officers, killed by Escobar’s army of assassins during the Medellin cartel’s heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.
“We are paying back a historical debt with our victims,” Gutierrez said prior to the demolition.
Retired Gen. Rosse Jose Serrano, who for many years led the elite police squad that pursued Escobar, said the Monaco building was where the famous capo planned some of his most brazen attacks. “It was his criminal fortress,” Serrano told The Associated Press.
Still, some in Colombia remember him fondly as a Robin Hood-like father figure who gave away homes to the poor and railed against the nation’s political elites. Escobar built Monaco for his wife, and the fugitive’s family was living there when Escobar’s rivals from the Cali cartel bombed it in 1988.