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CLARIN

Escobar Cohort: Castro And Garcia Marquez Colluded In Drug Trade

Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vásquez, known as "Popeye," was the hitman-of-choice for the legendary drug kingpin. He's out of jail now, and telling his side of the story.

John Jairo Velasquez Vásquez during the interview
John Jairo Velasquez Vásquez during the interview

BUENOS AIRES — A former henchman of the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar has been making some choice revelations to Argentine television channel Telenoche about the blood-soaked empire of cocaine.

For a while in the 1980s, Escobar became the world's most notorious drug trafficker. And his former collaborator — Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vásquez, known as "Popeye" — is no comic or clown. He was among the drug trade's most feared gunmen, believed to have killed more than 300 people, for which he has served 23 years in jail before being released last year.

In an interview with the television station, he accused Raul and Fidel Castro in Cuba, as well as the late Colombian novelist and Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, of collusion with international drug trafficking.

"Raul Castro would receive cocaine from Pablo Escobar, and Fidel Castro knew about it," he told journalist Ricardo Canaletti. "The drugs would go to Key West in southern Florida."

When Canaletti suggested that it would be difficult to believe a criminal's allegations against "one of the world's leaders," Popeye responded, "I was in Key West. I saw the drugs." He added that "10,000 kilograms of drugs were buried" in Cuba when U.S. authorities intercepted the Florida dispatches.

"Call me a bandit if you want," Popeye said. "I don't mind. But I'll tell you more. Pablo Escobar would send me to Mexico City to find the Nobel Prize winner García Márquez. Yes, you heard right. I handed him a letter from Escobar" meant to be given to the Castros.

Escobar, he said, "was asking Fidel for a Russian submarine to take the drugs from Mexico to Havana ... and Miami."

Popeye also managed to insult Argentina during the interview, telling Canaletti, "Look at your own country. Every day it's looking more like Colombia."

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Ideas

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Elon Musk bought Twitter in the name of absolute freedom. But numerous research shows that social media hate speech leads to actual violence. Musk and others running social networks need to strike a balance.

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Freedom on social networks can result in insults and defamation

Jean-Marc Vittori

-Analysis-

PARIS — Elon Musk is the world's leading reckless driver. The ever unpredictable CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is now behind a very different wheel as the new head of Twitter.

He began by banning remote work before slightly backtracking and authorizing it for the company’s “significant contributors.” Now he’s opened the door to Donald Trump to return to Twitter, while at the same time vaunting a decrease in the number of hate-messages that appear on the social network…all while firing Twitter’s content moderation teams.

But this time, the world’s richest man will have to make choices. He’ll have to limit his otherwise unconditional love of free speech. “Freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others,” proclaimed the French-born Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

Yet freedom on social networks results not only in insults and defamation, but sometimes also in physical aggression.

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