The iconic Monaco building, which was the target of a terrorist attack in 1988, will be demolished on Friday as Mayor Federico Gutierrez outlines plans to remove one of the most visible remnants of the drug lord’s reign in the city.
“To demolish, more than a physical infrastructure, a mental structure: the one that accepts illegality as a way. The demolition of the building is an action within a comprehensive strategy that seeks to build a culture of legality,” the mayor told newspaper El Colombiano.
While the iconic building, situated in the affluent Poblado neighborhood, was vacated by Escobar after the 1988 attack, it has attracted thousands of intrigued tourists over the years, while debate raged among locals as to what to do with it.
According to Gutierrez, the time has come to remove a symbol which represents criminality, and shift the focus of attention to the memory of the victims of one of the darkest periods of Medellin’s history.
It is important because we are concerned about the way in which we have narrated, and stopped narrating, our own history. In most stories, the perpetrators are the protagonists and this has long-term consequences, because it ends up validating an environment of illegality in which many children and young people grow up.
Mayor Federico Guterriez
Medellin has long battled with the legacy left by Escobar with “narcotours” springing up around the city and programs such as Netflix’s “Narcos” reviving the memory of the drug lord who left thousands of victims.
“The most important thing is not the demolition but the memorial which we will build and which will be a tribute to the lives we lost and to those brave people who defended their principles above all else,” emphasized the Mayor.
While the decision has come in for criticism in some quarters, Gutierrez reiterated that the demolition does not aim to erase Medellin’s violent past, but to bring about a shift in perspective through which the victims are honored.
The action of knocking down the Monaco is not to erase history. And it is not exactly because of what will be built in its place: a memorial in honor of the victims and the heroes of the time of narco-terrorism. It is not about hiding the past but about the opposite: we are going to return to him to tell the story again, but from a respectful point of view with the pain.
Mayor Federico Gutierrez
The Monaco Building is known in the country and the world for having been the target of a terrorist attack with a car bomb, apparently committed by members of the rival Cali Cartel on January 13, 1988.
The attack killed three people and left ten injured, along with damage to the building and neighboring houses in a four blocks radius. Later the building became a symbol of terrorism and drug trafficking in the life of the head of the so-called Medellin Cartel.
Many locals, particularly in neighborhoods that have benefited from Escobar’s social investment in the city, continue to revere the former drug lord. Poblado continues to be a favorite hangout for the city’s so-called narco-elite.
The controlled explosion that will destroy the iconic building will take place on Friday at 11am: it is expected to last just three seconds.
Charged with the task of designing the memorial to replace the Monaco building is Cesar Augusto Zapata, an engineer who worked on the development of the 9/11 memorial in New York, as well WIMSA memorial in Washington, DC.