Latin America & Caribbean

Medellin mayor demands apology over hit 'glorifying Escobar'

Victor Manuelle performs onstage at the 2018 Billboard Latin Music Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on 26 April 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victor Manuelle rebuffs claims he has disrespected Medellín's bloody past with his hit song Amarte Duro

The mayor of the Colombian city of Medellín has demanded an apology from two Puerto Rican pop stars over their latest hit - which refers to the city's infamous past under the control of the drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Federico Gutiérrez accused Victor Manuelle and Farruko of celebrating drugs and Escobar.

The salsa number, Amarte Duro, or Love You Hard, was released last month.

The mayor said the song ignored the 20,000 victims of the Escobar era.

At the height of his career, Escobar's cartel supplied an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States.

He was killed in a shoot-out with police in Medellín in 1993.

In an open letter, Mr Gutiérrez said the two men had been irresponsible.

He said many young children still dream of being "drug lords in their neighbourhoods because of the TV series [Narcos, shown on Netflix] where Escobar is the hero and songs, like theirs, which glorify him.

"Don't underestimate the influence they have on younger generations.

"They have no respect for our pain. This is a city which is trying to move forward, and the minimum they could do, in fact, is to respect it."

Amarte Duro includes the verses in Spanish, "Where I let my eye fall, I put a bullet and never fail" and "What I feel for you is like the coca of Medellín, I am no Pablo [Escobar], but you know what I am talking about."

Mr Gutiérrez also complained that the song celebrated violence against women and demanded a public apology from the two artists to both the city of Medellín and women.

In an open letter posted on Twitter, Victor Manuelle said he had not intended to cause offence.

"I would never be capable of deliberately offending anyone, let alone Medellin, the city which has given me so much love throughout my career," he said.

In previous statements he has denied promoting gender violence with lyrics such as "I'm going to give it hard to you the way Chris did to Rihanna", recalling the star's 2009 assault at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, insisting the song is about an intense love relationship.

Since the 1990s, successive Medellín mayors have worked hard to break the power of the cartels and paramilitary gangs with social and education programmes.

Although the violence is much reduced, there are still small drug gangs and drug traffickers operating in the city.

Image copyright AFP

Pablo Escobar 1949-1993

  • Escobar's drug wealth catapulted him into the Forbes list of global billionaires for seven years, ending with his 1993 death
  • The same year, he was responsible for the bombing of Avianca Flight 203, killing 107 people
  • In all, Escobar is thought to be responsible for some 4,000 deaths
  • His gang targeted politicians, the police and journalists
  • After he was arrested in 1991, Escobar was housed in a prison of his own design, nicknamed the Cathedral, where he continued to oversee the Medellin Cartel

This is not the first time the Medellín mayor has complained of the glorification of drugs and Pablo Escobar.

Last month he said US rap artist Wiz Khalifa should apologise for "advocating crime" after he laid flowers on Escobar's grave.

And last year he gave the reggaeton artist J Álvarez a lecture on who Escobar really was after he wore a shirt carrying references to Pablo Escobar during the inauguration of the local Medellín flower fair.

He also sent a letter to the airline Air Panama which has offered a "Medellín Narco Tour" for $499 (£370) per passenger, which includes three nights in a hotel and a visit to Pablo Escobar's abandoned ranch, Napoles.

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