Pablo Escobar’s name was and arguably still is synonymous with drug trafficking and death. It is a name that chills an entire nation and one that even some self-exiled family members have cast aside lest its infamy lead to reprisals.
Yet, Colombian authorities are standing firm in denying the family’s repeated requests to register it as a trademark, skeptical that it is to be used for the stated purposes of “education and recreation.”
The requests are being made by the trafficker’s widow and children who self-exiled to Argentina and changed their names soon after the drug lord’s death in 1993. They hope to use the name to promote peace and have been attempting to register it since 2006.
However, Colombia’s Commission of Industry and Commerce said Thursday that the name is “associated with a cycle of violence which cut across Colombia … and left thousands dead.”
Escobar, who died aged 44 in a hail of bullets after being chased across the rooftops of his home city of Medellín by authorities, is thought to have been responsible for some 4,000 deaths. Those included the alleged murder of a presidential candidate and the bombing of a commercial airliner.
It is not the first time that the family has hoped to profit from its infamous head. Escobar’s son, Sebastián Marroquín, set up a clothing line in 2012 with t-shirts emblazoned stylistically with images of the notorious drug lord’s ID card, driving license, credit card and other imagery.
Marroquín describes the t-shirts sold by his Escobar Henao brand as “garments of peace” on the company’s website. The clothing does not sell in Colombia but is popular in Mexico, savaged by its own war on drugs, and is available in the US, where Marroquín registered his father’s signature and fingerprint as a trademark in 2012.
Marroquín failed to respond to an interview request.
His father’s image was further immortalized last year with the launch of The Boss of Evil, a successful 63-part soap opera about his life. In 2007, Escobar’s infamous estate where he kept wild animals in a personal zoo, was opened to the public as a theme park.
In Medellín, hostels advertise daily Pablo Escobar tours of the city. They show off his gravestone, where backpackers have been known to snort cocaine, his various homes and some even include a meeting with Escobar’s brother, Roberto, at the drug lord’s former mountain hideout.
Colombians remains to be fascinated by a man whose specter haunts their country two months shy of the 20th anniversary of his death.