Notorious drugs lord Pablo Escobar would have dropped an atomic bomb on the world should he have needed to, an expert has claimed.
Former Medellín mayor Alonso Salazar, the man who wrote The Parable of Pablo two decades ago, believes the gang leader would have caused worldwide destruction if he'd had the means to do it.
He credited the drugs kingpin, who was killed in 1993, as bringing a wave of "violent modernisation" to Medellín which provided part of the "very extreme" outlook Escobar had on his drug-running.
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But the "global phenomenon" which stems from the life of the notorious criminal and has led to countless film adaptations and pop culture footnotes, was far more dangerous than expected.
Speaking with El Pais, ex-mayor Salazar said: "We entered into a violent modernisation. He suddenly introduced us to an issue of extraordinary urban violence — the one he generated — but also the one that was woven around narco culture. It was a massive phenomenon, which influenced the popular classes and also the middle classes.
"Drug-trafficking is a very redistributive business — it gives opportunities to many people. A very illegal, very usurious, very extreme mentality took hold here. Medellín was the first place where this was very visible and, later, it permeated other regions of Colombia. Today, I see it as having been the preview of what became a global phenomenon."
Although the cult interest and influence of Escobar still lingers, it is not this which bothers Salazar. Instead, the former mayor seems more aggrieved by what Escobar could have done with the right tools.
The 63-year-old believes the drugs lord had no moral limits and, if pushed, would have used nuclear arms to increase his hold on power.
He said: "He had no limits. If he had had an atomic bomb, he would have dropped it on us." Salazar later credited the rise of Escobar due to the drug lord's desire to be "an assassin".
"I think Pablo rose quickly because he decided to be an assassin. At that time, there was something that was known as the Marlboro War. That was his first school: his first job as a hitman. He did it in such a crude way that he gained recognition. When he started with the first kilos of cocaine, he already had a reputation as a thug. The other drug traffickers looked at him with respect," Salazar said.
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