Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Of Bicycles and Drug Money

Source: Cycling Inquisition blog
Recently the topic of Pablo Escobar has become to resurface with the opening of a new Colombian Soap Opera by its name: Pablo Escobar - El Patrón del Mal. or Pablo Escobar, the Lord of Evil.
Source: Crunchtees
Fewer people nowadays don't know who Escobar was, but for us Colombians that had to grow up with the cartel wars and thus with the bombings, the extravagant silliness, the news, the uncertainty and the inflation that drug money fueled, that name and the names of many other drug lords are latent in memory.  Pablo was definitely an icon.  You can ask around the world what his name means for them and you will hear dozens, maybe hundreds of different adjectives associated to it. For me, the name meant power, determination, suicide.  The picture above shows how this type of money permeated even the most noble of inventions.
Source: Cycling Inquisition blog

Bicycling and the races were not unaffected by the cartels. Not by his anyway. Pablo liked speed. All of his family liked the races; car races, horse races, flying, bike races and since his brother was into bicycles, Escobar saw it quite natural to just give his brother Roberto (osito) a bicycle? oh no... an entire bicycle factory. Bicicletas Ossito were the sponsors of bike tours around Colombia.  Made in Manizales, in the jurisdiction of Caldas, Ossitto made all kinds of bicycles, but was most notorious for its road bikes, which participated in some of the most important tours while riders such as Gonzalo Marín wore Jerseys and pants that advertised Pablo Escobar as a political figure.
Autos & Pista Magazine 1979

Escobar also donated money to launch athletes to the Tour de France, which reminds me of the Medici family and the sponsorships of artists during the Renascence in Italy. Perhaps car races were the most favored by El Patrón, but this didn't preclude the two to intermingle.  Several of Colombia's best professional cyclists found themselves associated to and victimized by the drug cartels.  Here are some of their names: Roberto Escobar (Pablo's brother), Gonzalo Marín, Alfonzo Flores, Armando Aristizabal, Juan Carlos Castillo, Rafael Tolosa.

Thanks to: Cycling Inquisiton and Carla Toscano's interview with Pablo Escobar

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