Who is Maria Victoria Henao?
A child-bride of a Colombian drug lord, Maria Victoria Henao was often questioned ‘How could you sleep with that monster?’ by the victims of her husband, however, in her memoir book “Amando a Pablo, odiando an Escobar” (in English: “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar”) she described her relationship with Pablo, saying that she loved him.
Despite the fact that he was one of the most hated criminals and that Maria disagreed with his decisions and actions innumerable times, she stayed with Pablo until his death, in the name of love.
Marriage with Pablo Escobar
Maria met her future husband Pablo when she was just 12 years old, and he 23; three years later, she married him. Maria’s grandmother took her and Pablo to the home of the bishop, Monsignor Jesus Antonio Castro, and they arranged their wedding.
The wedding ceremony was held on 29 March 1976, in Santisima Trinidad church, in Palmira, Colombia. Maria’s parents disapproved of this marriage, and weren’t present at the wedding as well as her siblings, nor was Pablo’s family. Maria remembers how scared she was, saying that she had her heart in her throat, however, Pablo seemed happy, as she recalls – he told her that they would be forever together.
Maria’s married life began with her going to school in the morning and coming home in the afternoon to do homework and house chores; as she said, she was thrilled with her new role. Being raised in a male chauvinist culture in which women were taught that they need to follow their husbands without questioning, she didn’t ask Pablo about his work. Maria would often hear gossip about his numerous mistresses, however, although this was deeply painful for her, she didn’t ask Pablo anything.
Maria was in her fourth year of secondary school when she gave birth to her and Pablo’s first child – on 24 February 1977, Juan Pablo was born. That morning, Maria went to school because she had an English test which she didn’t want to miss. Her water broke in the classroom and the teacher permitted her to go home. Maria walked two blocks to her childhood home to seek help from her mother, who took her to hospital and young Maria became a mother.
Their second child, a daughter named Manuela, was born on 25 May 1984. Pablo has already become fabulously wealthy, and the family moved to the famous Hacienda Napoles, an estate in the Antioquia region, which became the epicenter of Pablo Escobar’s family life as well as his business.
Maria claims that Pablo kept his business away from her and their children. She knew about the camouflaged apartments built for his mistresses, and although she endured affairs, humiliation, insults, loneliness, raids, lies, death threats, terrorist attacks, attempts to kidnap her children, and even long periods of imprisonment and exile, Maria couldn’t leave Pablo – as she said, she couldn’t stop loving him, but also claimed that she wasn’t able to leave because she was afraid that the most dangerous man in Colombia might hurt her if she left him. Maria was also scared for her children.
What happened to Maria Victoria Henao?
Maria’s life changed forever on the night of 30 April 1984, when Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, the Minister of Justice, was assassinated by a hitman – apparently, the murder was ordered by Pablo himself. The murder of the minister marked the start of the narco war that dominated Columbia for the next decade.
Pablo, Maria, Manuela, and Juan Pablo left the hacienda and went into a hideout known as the blue house which was supposed to be their final hideout. However, on 18 September 1993, Pablo told Maria to pack her and their children’s bags and that they needed to move to Altos.
Maria remembers how deeply she was in love with Pablo and how much she cried knowing that this might be their last goodbye. 75 days later, Pablo died.
After his death, Maria and the children fled to Germany, and then to Mozambique, but these countries denied them asylum, and they finally settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maria changed her name to Victoria Henao Vallejos, and later she went under the name Maria Isabel Santos Caballero. She worked as a real estate agent before her true identity was discovered.
In 1999, Maria and Juan Pablo were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and were both in prison for several months. When they were released, Maria said that she wasn’t arrested because of what she had allegedly done, but because she was Pablo Escobar’s widow.
Where is she today?
Maria stayed out of the spotlight for more than 15 years before she decided to share her story with the rest of the world. Her first book, “Mrs Escobar: My Life with Pablo” was published in 2018, and two years later, her second book “Pablo and Me: My Life with Pablo” was released.
According to sources, she today often goes by the name Victoria Eugenia Henao. Her son also changed his name, and Juan Pablo today goes by the name Sebastian Marroquin and is a successful architect, while Manuela is trying to keep her life away from the media’s attention.
Maria’s book was the inspiration for the 2017 movie “Loving Pablo”, starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. She still lives in Buenos Aires.
What does Pablo Escobar's wife have to say about him?
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— Storytel India (@Storytel_In) August 22, 2019
Briefly about her husband, Pablo Escobar
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born on 1 December 1949, in Rionegro, Colombia, and was raised in Medellin by his parents alongside his six siblings. Pablo dropped out of high school aged 17 but later returned, and upon matriculating, he enrolled at Universidad Autonoma Latinoamericana. His goal was to become a lawyer and one day the president, however, due to lack of money, Pablo dropped out of college.
Pablo began his criminal career in the late ‘60s, and had been involved in organized crime for a decade when the cocaine trade began to spread in Colombia. As mentioned, by the early ’80s, Pablo became one of the wealthiest criminals in history. He was the founder and sole leader of the Medellin Cartel, and according to sources, his net worth was estimated at over $30 billion (equivalent to $70 billion today).
The life of Pablo Escobar served as an inspiration to some – he was apparently generous to the poor – and has been dramatized in numerous movies, on television, and in music.
Death of Pablo Escobar
The Colombian police tried to arrest Pablo Escobar on 2 December 1993, a day after his 44th birthday, and following an exchange of gunfire, Pablo was shot while trying to escape. The bullets hit him in the feet and torso and one bullet struck him in the ear, killing him, which actually sparked numerous debates about whether he killed himself to avoid arrest – the police claim that they killed Pablo Escobar.