Phillip Witcomb grew up as the son of a British M16 agent. Later he would learn that he is in fact the first born son of notorious drug lord, Don Pablo Escobar. One of the ten richest men in the world, Escobar controlled 80% of the global trade in cocaine before being shot dead in 1993. His first born, Roberto Sendoya Escobar, spoke to us from his home in Majorca about his recently published book, Son of Escobar. The novel traces the story of his incredible childhood and includes code and other hidden clues as to the whereabouts of the missing Escobar millions.
Roberto Escobar chats easily with us from his home in Majorca. Behind him, his paintings are visible and he admits that ‘what I’m doing now, is as normal as I’m going to get’. Escobar’s life reads like something out of an Ian Flemming novel. He is adopted as a baby by a British M16 who finds him alive next to his dead mother and others who perished in a drug raid by Columbian special forces against Pablo Escobar and his men. Roberto’s early childhood involved a number of kidnapping attempts by his drug lord father until finally he left Columbia at age 9 to be place in a boarding school in the UK. He became the adopted son of British M16 agent Witcomb who he describes as ‘a proper Ian Flemming character’ but also ‘a really nice guy’.
The British Columbian writer admits that when he was writing the book, he ‘felt sorry for the kid he was writing about’. He speaks of a curious sense of detachment from his younger self and agrees that when one is expose to ‘nasty things’ too early in life, ‘very little shocks one after that.’ He also admits to being less empathetic as a result. ‘ You become a bit hardened to things’ he tells us. Trust is not a word of practise that he uses in his life either. His wife and his children are the only ones who he allows himself to trust he confides. Roberto Escobar shakes off questions about living with the knowledge that someone wants you dead, with similar aplomb. ‘I think they would have got my half-brother long before me’, he laughs.
In spite of his natural gregariousness, the writer describes himself as something of a recluse. He tells us too, that his laughter and jokes are his way of coping with difficulty and admits to many years of struggle with depression and mental health problems. Nevertheless, with the publishing of what promises to be a bestseller, Roberto agrees that he is going to have to ‘be more willing to speak to people’. He also admits to enjoying a little limelight – ‘We all of us like to be adored’. It is perhaps his disarming honesty that strikes one first about Roberto Escobar. He tells us that he hasn’t written a book that’s going to hurt anyone. He refers rather to the old adage – every cloud has a silver lining. He would like those who read his book ‘to understand that it’s not the end of the world, even if you do, as a baby, witness your mother being shot.’ Souwie Buis 7th August 2020