When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

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."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest