Pablo Escobar’s Home Is Demolished in Colombia, Along With a Painful Legacy

Pablo Escobar’s Home Is Demolished in Colombia, Along With a Painful Legacy

As the looming gray building imploded, crumbling into a pile of debris and dust, a crowd of onlookers cheered. Some wept.

The televised blast on Friday that leveled the Monaco building, the former home of the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in Medellín, Colombia, erased a symbol of the city’s past that many have tried to forget. In its place, the city is planning a memorial park to honor the victims of his drug cartel’s crimes.

“Today, that building falls and hope begins,” President Iván Duque of Colombia said in a televised statement. “It is impossible to change the past, but you can build a better present and a better future.”

He said that flipping the narrative by emphasizing victims’ stories, rather than glorifying the illegal activity of Mr. Escobar and others like him, was essential to reclaiming Colombia’s national story.

“We are concerned about the way in which we have narrated, and stopped narrating, our own history,” Mr. Gutiérrez said. “In most stories, the perpetrators are the protagonists and this has long-term consequences, because it ends up validating an environment of illegality.”

The city consulted with neighbors, academics, local artists and the families of victims to design the memorial park, he said.

The purpose of demolishing the Monaco “is not to erase history,” he said. “We need our young people to know the stories, to tell them this cannot happen again.”

On Friday, Mr. Gutiérrez joined dozens of victims’ families and members of the community for a ceremony on the grounds of a hotel near the site of the Monaco, where they watched the building fall.

“Medellín can tell a different story,” he told the crowd. “Today a symbol falls and a light of hope is born.”

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