Maria Victoria Henao first met the man she would later refer to as the “love of her life” at the tender age of 12.
In stark contrast to his notorious reputation as a cocaine kingpin, she described the 23-year-old Pablo Escobar as “affectionate,” “sweet,” and “a gentleman.”
Henao married Escobar in 1976, deeply committed to her vision of him as her “Prince Charming.”
She admired his desire to help people and his compassion for those in need, often accompanying him on trips to impoverished areas where he dreamed of building schools for the underprivileged.
Their relationship, however, grew complex over the years. Henao remained by Escobar’s side until his violent death in 1993, enduring the challenges of his involvement in drug trafficking, his propensity for violence, and his numerous infidelities with other women.
Despite the pain inflicted upon her and their entire country of Colombia during their tumultuous 17-year marriage, Henao maintains that she genuinely loved Escobar.
How Maria Victoria Henao met Pablo
The story of how Maria Henao became the wife of Pablo Escobar is a remarkable one. She first encountered the man who would become the infamous cocaine kingpin when she was just 12 years old.
A few years later, in 1976, Henao, determined to be with her “Prince Charming,” married the much older Escobar, defying not only their significant age difference but also her family’s disapproval.
She was drawn to his aspiration to aid those in need and his compassion for the less fortunate, often accompanying him on trips to impoverished areas where he sought to build schools for the underprivileged.
Henao remained committed to Escobar until his violent death in 1993, despite the challenges that came with his involvement in drug trafficking, his penchant for violence, and his numerous affairs with other women.
Their 17-year marriage bore the weight of pain and complexity, yet Henao still affirms her genuine love for him, even in the face of the suffering he inflicted on her and their homeland, Colombia.
Her Father Strongly Opposed Her Marriage to Pablo Escobar
When Maria was just 13 years old, her path crossed with Pablo Escobar’s through her brother Carlos, who sought opportunities within Pablo’s Medellin cartel. At the time, Escobar was rising to notoriety, and Carlos saw him as a potential breakthrough.
Maria’s first encounter with Pablo revealed a charming and generous side of the drug lord. In her memoir, “My Life and Prison with Pablo Escobar,” she portrays him as a romantic who showered her with attention, gifts, and the finest music in Colombia, serenading her with romantic ballads.
Marriage to 26-year-old Pablo made her feel like a fairy tale princess.
Undeterred by her father’s concerns, Maria’s love for her husband led her to bet everything on their relationship. A year later, at the age of 16, she gave birth to their first child, Juan Pablo Escobar.
Unfortunately, as time passed, Pablo’s behavior took a darker turn, forcing Maria to grapple with his dissolute ways and heavy drug use while raising a young child.
Was Maria aware of her husband’s involvement in drug dealing?
Maria strongly maintains that she had no knowledge of her husband’s involvement in illegal activities.
Amidst the controversy surrounding Maria’s apparent ignorance of Pablo’s drug dealings, she has provided written and recorded statements to support her assertion.
According to her book, Maria asserts that she remained unaware of her husband’s illicit dealings for many years, even as Pablo’s cocaine empire expanded.
The story goes that she only discovered the drug business when Pablo was arrested. Upon entering their bedroom after his arrest, she found a large suitcase on the bed.
Her husband had turned it on its side, revealing a spill of cash and three large bags filled with white powder.
Overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, Maria called a cab and sought refuge in a quiet hotel to contemplate her next steps.
The question remains: was Maria being truthful, or was she trying to avoid prison? Some believe she was a naive woman who didn’t know her ‘prince charming’ was a criminal.
Others argue that she might have been aware but, as time passed, she became addicted to the lavish lifestyle and felt trapped. Only Maria knows the truth.
One thing is certain, there came a point when Henao could no longer ignore her husband’s violent “work.” Toward the end, when Henao and her children wanted to visit Escobar, they were blindfolded and brought to safehouses by cartel members.
During this perilous time leading up to Pablo’s death, Henao lived in constant fear of being targeted by her husband’s enemies.
The Reality of Marriage to the Notorious Cocaine King
When Maria Victoria Henao married Pablo Escobar, he had already progressed from minor offenses to establishing his drug empire. A decade later, he reigned as the kingpin of the Medellín Cartel, controlling 80% of US cocaine imports.
Throughout this period, Henao silently supported him. She was molded to be his wife and mother to their children, discouraged from questioning or challenging his choices, and expected to ignore his actions.
In the early years, Henao professed ignorance of Escobar’s occupation, but she couldn’t overlook his extended “business” trips and the rapid accumulation of wealth.
Initially, she enjoyed their opulent lifestyle publicly, relishing private jets, fashion events, and art. Privately, she suffered from his involvement in crime, particularly his affairs.
As their family grew, with Henao giving birth to two children, Escobar continued his infidelities. At one point, he even constructed a secret “bachelor pad” in their home for his mistresses.
The constant gossip about his affairs caused her much pain.
But Escobar’s actions extended beyond infidelity. His cartel assassinated Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara, killed a presidential candidate, and bombed a commercial airline.
Henao could no longer turn a blind eye to his violent world.As it approached the end, she and her children experienced being blindfolded when they visited Escobar in safehouses, driven by their fear of retaliation from his enemies.
In 1993, Escobar’s days were numbered. He asked Henao and their children to move to a government-protected safehouse.
Motivations for Maria Victoria Henao’s Marriage to Pablo Escobar
Introduction: Maria Victoria Henao’s marriage to Pablo Escobar has long intrigued many. Her unwavering commitment to a man responsible for heinous crimes raises questions about her motivations.
Background: Maria Victoria Henao married Pablo Escobar in 1976, marking the onset of his drug empire’s ascent, controlling 80% of US cocaine imports.
This report delves into the factors that held her in this tumultuous marriage despite the controversies surrounding her husband.
Motivations: Love was the cornerstone of Henao’s commitment to Escobar, considering him the love of her life. Cultural influences played a significant role, as she was raised in a society where women were expected to unquestioningly follow their spouses.
Conclusion: Maria Victoria Henao’s complex motivations, stemming from love, cultural norms, fear, and the dangerous circumstances surrounding her husband, have kept the world captivated by her enduring commitment to Pablo Escobar.
Her two children pursued divergent paths in life
Juan Pablo Escobar Henao, now known as Sebastián Marroquín, pursued a career as a professional architect, distancing himself from his father’s criminal legacy.
Despite the challenges associated with his father’s notorious life, he has established himself in the field of architecture and has actively condemned his father’s actions.
Marroquín met with many of his father’s victims and appeared in a documentary about the drug lord. He also authored the book “Pablo Escobar: My Father (2014)” under his original name.
Marroquín is a father to two children, Juan Emilio Escobar and Santiago Montoya.
In contrast, Manuela Escobar chose to keep her birth name.After a money laundering case unveiled their true identities in 1999, her mother homeschooled her for several years, leading to her withdrawal from school.
Manuela deliberately avoids the public eye, and limited information exists about her.
Years after Pablo’s death, trouble still haunts her
After Pablo’s death, Maria Escobar and her family went into hiding, and she adopted the name María Isabel Santos Caballero. Their whereabouts remained a mystery for a while.
With time passing and Colombia moving forward, Maria felt it might be safe to return to her homeland. However, in 1999, the police received an anonymous tip that led them to their location in Argentina.
Authorities arrested them, accusing them of theft and money laundering. However, a 15-month investigation later revealed insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations.
Maria later disclosed that Colombian prisons were the harshest she had experienced in any country.
She spent four years behind bars before her release in 2005, after which she established a new life for herself and her family in Buenos Aires.
In 2018, Maria and her son faced another arrest.They faced accusations of acting as intermediaries in Argentina for Colombian drug trafficker José Piedrahita to launder money through real estate and a café famous for its tango performances, alongside former Colombian soccer player Mauricio Serna.
Her book exposes the hardships of being Pablo’s wife
After her release in 2005, Henao chose to stay away from the public eye. However, in 2018, a quarter-century after Pablo’s death, she decided to break her silence about her life with him.
In her book Mrs. Escobar: My Life with Pablo, she opened up about her infamous husband and their relationship. Her motivation was clear: she wanted her children and her six-year-old grandson to know the truth from her perspective.
Addressing questions about why she stayed with Escobar, Henao revealed enduring affairs, loneliness, humiliations, insults, lies, and even kidnapping attempts on her children.
Despite all this, she admitted that she loved him deeply. Raised in a culture where women unquestioningly followed their husbands and fearing Escobar’s potential harm, she felt trapped.
For Henao, reconciling her love for Pablo Escobar with his heinous actions has been an ongoing struggle.
She expressed profound sadness and shame for the immense pain her husband caused not only to his victims’ families but to the entire country of Colombia.
In a 2018 interview with Colombia’s W Radio, Henao publicly apologized for her late husband’s reign of terror, acknowledging the devastating impact it had on countless lives.