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EL ESPECTADOR

How Pablo Escobar's Hippos Sparked An Ecological Debate

Once part of the cocaine kingpin's private zoo, the animals are now an invasive species impacting the local environment. But few in Colombia have the heart to kill them off.

Vanessa, one of the hungry hippo at Pablo Escobar's estate
Vanessa, one of the hungry hippo at Pablo Escobar's estate
Natalia Pedraza and María Mónica Monsalve S.

BOGOTÁ — The story's been told before, and dates back decades. And yet, its relevance continues to grow — in a very literal sense — and presents Colombia with a real conundrum.

We're talking about the handful of hippopotamuses that the notorious cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar imported in the 1980s, for his private zoo. The drug lord was killed in 1993. But the huge herbivores lived on and made their way off the Escobar estate and into the nearby Magdalena river, where they have joyfully multiplied ever since.

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Ideas

García Márquez And Truth: How Journalism Fed The Novelist's Fantasy

In his early journalistic writings, the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez showed he had an eye for factual details, in which he found the absurdity and 'magic' that would in time be the stuff and style of his fiction.

Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez reads his book

J. D. Torres Duarte

BOGOTÁ — In short stories written in the 1940s and early 50s and later compiled in Eyes of a Blue Dog, the late Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia's Nobel Prize-winning novelist, shows he is as yet a young writer, with a style and subjects that can be atypical.

Stylistically, García Márquez came into his own in the celebrated One Hundred Years of Solitude. Until then both his style and substance took an erratic course: touching the brevity of film scripts in Nobody Writes to the Colonel, technical experimentation in Leaf Storm, the anecdotal short novel in In Evil Hour or exploring politics in Big Mama's Funeral. Throughout, the skills he displayed were rather of a precocious juggler.

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