Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord and leader of the Medellin Cartel which at one point controlled as much as 80% of the international cocaine trade. He is famous for waging war against the Colombian government in his campaign to outlaw extradition of criminals to the United State and ordering the assassination of countless individuals, including police officers, journalists, and high ranking officials and politicians. He is also well known for investing large sums of his fortune in charitable public works, including the construction of schools, sports fields and housing developments for the urban poor. While U.S. and Colombian officials have portrayed Escobar as a villain and terrorist who held the entire nation hostage, many people among the Colombian popular class admire him as a generous benefactor, like a Colombian Robin Hood. Decades of political turmoil and unprecedented violent conflict had left the Colombian lower class alienated and disenfranchised, creating the ideal conditions for a Robin Hood figure like Escobar to emerge and redistribute wealth among the poor. From the other perspective, Escobar threatened to destabilize the Colombian political and justice system and became a political target in the United States’ international War on Drugs. This thesis will examine the origins of both of these social constructions, the villain and the Robin Hood, within Colombian society and politics and in regards to the criteria of the development of similar outlaw hero legends.