“Pablo Escobar is a myth, and how are myths built? With their stories and their images, their experiences,” said Luz Helena Naranjo Ocampo, a university professor and former assistant secretary of tourism in Medellín. “There are all kinds of efforts to maintain the myth and there are all kinds of efforts to minimize the myth.”
They hadn’t seen each other in 15 years, but Jiménez’s host immediately recognized him. “It’s been too long,” Pablo Escobar said.
The head of the notorious Medellín cartel told Jiménez he was looking for a photographer to create a registry of the giraffes, hippos, elephants and camels that roamed his private zoo. Jiménez agreed to help.
He would end up working as the drug lord’s personal family photographer for the better part of a decade, shooting photos of First Communions, weddings, birthday parties, campaign events, quiet moments around the house. He would bear witness to the Escobar few others would see as the kingpin assassinated politicians, terrorized Colombia and became one of the richest men on earth.
The photographer, now 72, embodies the ambivalence many in Medellín feel toward the legacy of its most famous son — and how to tell his story.
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