The Mona Lisa Mystery: Who is Mona Lisa, and Why is It the World’s Most Famous Painting?


The Art Heist

On 21st August 1911, it was a Monday morning in the French capital, Paris. It was quite bustling. People were going to work in their offices when suddenly, three men came out of the Louvre museum. The three had spent the previous night in the museum. And now, they were carrying an important property of the Louvre Museum. that was hidden in a blanket while they tried to escape. They went to a nearby railway station and caught the train at 8.45 in the morning and disappeared. The whole world was unaware of the fact that they had stolen a painting. Not an insignificant painting. The world’s most famous painting. The Mona Lisa. Today, the value of this painting is close to $1 billion. What is the reason behind this? What are the secrets hidden in the Mona Lisa? Why is this the most famous painting in the world? Let’s understand the mystery of the Mona Lisa.

The Origin of the Enigma

Mona Lisa was painted in 1503 by an Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. And this man was so amazing, that you won’t even believe it. Not only was he a painter, but also an engineer, scientist, sculptor, architect, and theorist. He had knowledge of so many subjects be it painting, cartography, astronomy, anatomy, botany, hydrology, geology, optics, or even palaeontology.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Masterpiece: Unraveling the Secrets of the Mona Lisa

 let’s get to Mona Lisa. Which was his most famous painting. But who was this person in the painting? People have always been curious about the identity of the woman in the painting. The first revelation about this was made by an Italian artist named Giorgio Vasari, who wrote the autobiography of Leonardo da Vinci in 1550. According to Vasari, this woman was Lisa Gherardini. She was married to a silk trader who lived in Florence, Francesco Giocondo. He believed that Francesco had commissioned this painting of his wife and that’s the origin of the names of this painting. The first name that we all know, Mona Lisa, derived from Madonna Lisa. Traditionally, in Italian, the word Madonna was used to mean Madam. So, Madonna Lisa meant Madam Lisa. The word Madonna was later shortened to Monna. Monna with a double N. When this was written in English an N was dropped and Monna became Mona. So Mona Lisa means Madam Lisa or Lady Lisa. And then comes Mona Lisa’s other name which is La Gioconda. After her marriage, Lisa Gherardini became Lisa Giocondo. Interestingly, in Italian, Giocondo means light-hearted or cheerful. Meaning, bright and joyful. And today, Mona Lisa is very famous for her smile. So that’s where it got its name, La Giocondo. In French, the word Giocondo is written with a J, like this, Joconde. So that’s why when you go to the Louvre Museum in Paris and see the painting of Mona Lisa, in French, it would be identified as La Joconde.

From Italy to France: The Odyssey of the Mona Lisa

 Now, the interesting thing is that in 1550, despite this revelation, people were not ready to believe that Vasari’s narrative was correct. Many theories started to emerge about this woman being someone else. Some people said that she was Leonardo da Vinci’s mother. Some said that this was a painting of a queen from the Italian aristocracy. The most interesting theory was that in this painting, da Vinci painted himself. That this painting is not of a woman. but in fact a self-portrait of Da Vinci. Where he imagined how he would have looked had he been a woman. This theory was promoted by artist Lilian Schwartz in an article in 1987. She used digital tools to try to show similarities between Leonardo Da Vinci’s face and Mona Lisa’s image. With this logic, any two faces can be seen as similar by placing them on top of each other. But today, we can say with a lot of certainty that the woman painted here is indeed Lisa Giocondo. A professor living in Florence researched this for 25 years and found the archives and in 2004, he discovered clear evidence to prove this fact. He also found that the da Vinci family had a close relationship with Francesco Giocondo’s family. He also found a record that Lisa’s marriage was registered on 5th March 1495 when Lisa was 16 years old and Francesco was around 30 years old. He found that Leonardo da Vinci’s father and Lisa’s husband knew each other very well. And it’s possible that this painting was commissioned not by Lisa’s husband, but by Leonardo’s father. Pallanti says that when the Mona Lisa was painted, Lisa was 24 years old. And that there might have been two reasons for painting this. The first reason is that in 1503, when Francesco and Lisa bought their home, or the second reason is that in December 1502, when their second son was born. The second reason seems more probable because three years before this, in 1499, Lisa lost her daughter.

The Making of an Icon: Understanding the Unique Features of the Mona Lisa

 If you look at this painting closely, you will see a veil over Lisa’s hair. Many people call it a mourning veil. It is a veil that is worn when someone in the family has passed away. Now, one question arises here if Da Vinci was Italian, Mona Lisa was Italian, then why is this painting in France today? Well, the thing about this is that in the year 1516, the king of France, King Francis I, invited Leonardo da Vinci to live in France. And so, da Vinci moved from Italy to France. And took with him the Mona Lisa. Historical records aren’t clear about this, but it’s believed that da Vinci hadn’t completed the painting yet. 15 years after starting the painting, he was still working on this painting, trying to modify it and make it better. Meanwhile, in the year 1519, Leonardo da Vinci passed away during his stay in the French palace. And the king kept this painting as a part of his Royal Collection. About 150 years, in 1797, when the French Revolution happened, this painting was taken out of the palace and handed over to the Louvre Museum.

Why Mona lisa was stolen

 The interesting thing is that this is the reason why the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. The mastermind of this theft was Vincenzo Peruggia. He stole this painting together with his two friends. He was an Italian Nationalist. He believed that this painting belonged to Italy. Not in France. And so after stealing it, they took it to Italy. Stealing such a famous painting was a risky job especially when the value of the painting was in millions of dollars. let’s know the speciality of this painting. Why is it so special? First of all, the Mona Lisa was not painted on paper, canvas or cloth. Instead, it was painted on poplar wood. In those days, it was the favourite wood of Italian painters. Secondly, this painting isn’t large.  This is where it hangs in the museum. This painting is only 77 cm by 53 cm. But still, it is considered so special because, in its time, in Italy, this was the first painting which focused so closely on the person. This is a half-length portrait. These types of shots are very common in photography today. But no one used to make such paintings in those days. If you look at the overall colour grading of this painting, you will see a lot of brown and yellow shades. It looks like a very dull painting. It is so yellowish that at one point, a professor declared Lisa a cholesterol patient. But there are two reasons behind this. First, a varnish layer has been applied to this painting so that moisture does not affect the painting badly. It looks like a dull painting. It is so yellowish that once a professor had declared Lisa to be a patient with high cholesterol. But there are two reasons for this. First, there is a layer of varnish on top of this painting. So that there are no ill-effects of moisture on this painting, since it was painted on wood. So it’s necessary to protect it from humidity and moisture. And secondly, over time, there was bleaching. Originally, when this was painted, it used to be more bright and colourful. Some people tried to recreate this painting to see how it would have looked originally.

Deciphering Mona Lisa’s Smile: Leonardo da Vinci’s Artistic Mastery and Scientific Curiosity

Da Vinci used a very special painting style in this painting, known as Sfumato. The technique of blending. The background you see in this painting is a landscape. It is the Arno Valley in Italy. There are no clear boundaries or outlines between the background and Mona Lisa. In some places, Mona Lisa’s hair is blended with the landscape. Blurring the outlines and blending the colours is the technique of Sfumato. This is the secret behind Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile. Look at Mona Lisa’s smile carefully. The more you look at this smile, the more serious this face will look. But now look into Mona Lisa’s eyes. Suddenly, you will see Lisa smiling more. If you look at any part of the painting, be it the background, Mona Lisa’s forehead or her eyes, you will see the effect. Lisa’s face starts smiling more when you don’t focus on the smile. To perfect this smile, da Vinci spent the most time. He spent many nights in a hospital in Florence, where he used to go and remove the skin of dead bodies. He wanted to study the facial muscles and nerves and how they work together to create a smile. He wrote in his book that “the muscles which move the lips are more numerous in man than in any other animal.” It was very difficult for him to dissect the muscles of the lips because the muscles here are tiny and numerous. During this experiment, da Vinci studied horses as well. He compared human expressions to that of horses. In the notes, he wrote, “Notice whether the muscle that raises the nostrils of the horse is the same as that which lies here in man.” Hardly, throughout history, any other artist has dissected the faces of a horse and a human and done these experiments. His obsession with Mona Lisa’s smile didn’t end here. After this, he did research on optics as well. He found that the light rays don’t merge together into a single point on our eyes, rather they spread out over the entire retina. The centre of the retina, known as the Fovea, helps us see the finest details. On the other hand, the rest of the retina picks up shadows and black-and-white imagery more. Using this knowledge, he focused on the shadows in such a way that even when you see the Mona Lisa in your peripheral vision, as in, if you are looking this way and Mona Lisa is on the other side, even if you are not paying attention to Mona Lisa, the effect of her smile is still there. When you look at her smile closely, you will see that its central line is a flat line, is why when you look at her smile, it looks like she is not smiling at all. But on the other hand, the shadows created using the Sfumato technique, have such an effect that when you look elsewhere, your peripheral vision sees that smile and its shadows are reflected. And then you feel that Lisa is smiling.

A Tale of Two Paintings

How would it feel if I told you that the Mona Lisa is not one painting, rather two paintings. This is not a conspiracy theory, it’s the truth. Mona Lisa’s painting, as we know, a similar painting was created at the same time. The story of this second Mona Lisa began in the year 1504 when another legendary artist named Raphael made a rough sketch using pen and ink. This sketch looked something like this and if you compare it with the Mona Lisa in Louvre, you can see a huge difference. In this sketch by Raphael, you can see two columns behind Mona Lisa. Here, the researchers believed that Raphael must have made his drawing based on the Mona Lisa painting. So, it was initially brushed off. But this theory was disproved by a German art historian in 1993. And Professor Pallanti, whom I had mentioned earlier, who had been researching the identity of the Mona Lisa for 25 years, confirmed that Raphael actually lived right in front of the Giocondo family in Florence. So, does this mean that Raphael made an original painting on the same subject, with the same woman in the same pose? This seems quite unbelievable. Another answer to this question could be that another Mona Lisa painting exists which inspired Raphael to make this drawing. And this second Mona Lisa painting was revealed to the world in 1914. A novelist living near London, John R. Eyer, had a new version of the Mona Lisa. This is the new Mona Lisa painting. The same painting based on which Raphael made his drawing. This second Mona Lisa is 3.5 inches longer and 5 inches wider than the one in the Louvre. If you compare these two paintings, you will notice three things. First, the woman in this new Mona Lisa looks much younger. Second, the head in this new painting is tilted a little forward. And third, the expressions of this new Mona Lisa are very straightforward and clear. There is nothing mysterious about her smile that is in the Mona Lisa in Louvre. The two columns in the background are the ones seen in Raphael’s drawing. Due to these reasons, a new theory is coined by the experts. That Leonardo da Vinci was actually working on two Mona Lisas. Leonardo da Vinci painted both these Mona Lisa. But the Isleworth Mona Lisa that was later discovered was the first version of da Vinci’s painting. He was experimenting with his style then. And this is why the Mona Lisa in that painting looks younger than the other Mona Lisa. This theory remains a topic of debate to date. In 2010, the Mona Lisa Foundation started an investigation on the Isleworth Mona Lisa to find out the secret behind it. And they came up with another theory. They said that the face and hands of this new Mona Lisa were indeed painted by da Vinci. But the background was painted by an inferior artist. Perhaps, a person working in Leonardo’s workshop had finished this painting. Both these theories remain mere theories because no solid evidence has been found on either side. Coming back to the theft of the Mona Lisa, it was found that the mastermind of this theft, Vincenzo Peruggia, was an employee in the Louvre Museum. One day, he hid in some corner in the museum and spent the night there after which, the next morning, he walked out with the painting. He believed that since Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian, this painting should be in an Italian museum. When the news of the theft spread, it made headlines all over the world. Scores of detectives were put to work to look for the thief. But no one could find him. For two years, Peruggia hid this painting at his home. He wondered what he could do with it. The whole world was looking for it. Finally, he became impatient and tried to sell the painting. He tried to sell this painting to an art dealer in Florence To Giovanni Poggi. Giovanni became suspicious and saw the stamp on the painting to confirm that it was the stolen painting. He was being sold the most wanted item in the world. Because of this, Vincenzo was caught and was sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment. The painting was sent back to the Louvre Museum and was hung up on 4th January, 1914. Today, this painting is displayed there, behind bulletproof glass, in strict climate-controlled conditions where humidity is maintained at 50% +/- 10%, temperature is strictly maintained at 18°C to 21°C. Perhaps the most interesting part in this story is that only after this theft did Mona Lisa’s popularity start increasing. And it became the world’s #1 famous painting. That’s right. Before the theft, the Mona Lisa was not very famous. People who were interested in art, knew about the Mona Lisa but the common folks did not know about the Mona Lisa.


How Korea became a Cultural Superpower? | evolution of Korean dramas, Case Study | BTS | Squid Games 

Emergence of the Asian Tigers

Over the past 70 years, in East Asia, the fastest-growing developed economies are referred to as the ‘Asian Tigers’. The four Asian Tigers are Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Among them, South Korea stands out not just as an economically developed nation but also as a cultural superpower. South Korea’s iconic “Gangnam Style” song became the first YouTube video to surpass 1 billion views. The TV show “Squid Game,” originating from South Korea, is one of the most watched TV shows globally. Even YouTube sensation Mr Beast’s most popular video is about Squid Game. Additionally, South Korean bands like BTS and Blackpink are achieving international fame, K-Dramas are becoming more and more popular, and South Korean movies such as “Oldboy” and “Parasite” receive acclaim and prestigious awards globally. Notably, “Parasite” made history as the first non-English film to win an Oscar for the Best Film.  How is this happening? Is it merely a stroke of luck that South Korean content and products are gaining immense popularity worldwide, or is it the result of a well-thought-out strategy by the South Korean government?  let’s try to understand,

South Korea’s Evolution: From Struggle to Prosperity

How did South Korea become a Cultural Superpower? Let’s start our story from August 15, 1945, a pivotal day when Japan officially surrendered, marking the end of World War II. While Germany, Italy, and Japan faced significant defeats, Korea, previously under Japanese rule, gained its freedom.

Cultural Repression and Evolution

This is why 15th August, is known as National Liberation Day in both North and South Korea, Back then, North and South Korea were not separate entities but one unified country, Korea. The division occurred after World War II, when the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to split Korea into two parts. Southern Korea, under U.S. command, and northern Korea, under Soviet command, The plan was to put North and South Korea under trusteeship for a period of 5 years to assess Korea’s progress and determine their future. The ultimate plan was to reunite Korea as an independent nation after 5 years. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Tensions escalated between the United States and the Soviet Union, marking the beginning of the Cold War. In 1948, the United Nations attempted to conduct supervised elections in North Korea but that proved unfeasible. Meanwhile, elections proceeded in the U.S.-controlled South Korea, and a new Constitution was adopted. And so, on August 15, 1948 the Republic of Korea was born. A new, liberal, democratic nation. “Our General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Mrs MacArthur, to attend ceremonies formally proclaiming the end of the US military government in Korea, and the formation of the free and independent Korean Republic.” The next month, North Korea was declared a communist country under a dictatorship. 2 years later, in 1950, North Korea attempted to reunify the two Koreas not through a peaceful treaty, but through invasion into South Korea. This sparked a war. A conflict that persisted for three years. The Korean War. “In Korea, United Nations’ troops push on in the cautious advance against the communists.” Consequently, South Korea became one of the poorest nations in the world. The country was so poor at the time that its GDP per capita falls below that of present-day Somalia and Haiti, both among the world’s poorest nations today. This dire poverty takes a toll on democracy, leading South Korean President Rhee Syngman to adopt an authoritarian stance. He introduced constitutional amendments and the country shifted towards dictatorship. Elections were conducted in 1960, but later, it was revealed that they were rigged. Triggering nationwide protests. President Rhee fled the country due to the protests, prompting new elections. A new South Korean prime minister was elected in these elections. However, a military coup unfolded soon after, with General Park Chung-Hee overthrowing the government and establishing military dictatorship. Although he was assassinated in 1979, there was another military coup, in which another general came to power.

Governmental Strategy for Cultural Export

It was only in 1987-88 that a revival of democracy took place in South Korea. The prolonged era of dictatorships left a lasting impact on South Korean culture, censorship. In 1962, Park Chung Hee introduced a Motion Picture Law, which underwent four revisions in the following decade, each time becoming more stringent. During that time, films released in South Korea had to undergo a government approval process for their scripts. And once the film was made, these films were scrutinized to ensure they aligned with the approved government script. Which films would be allowed by the government? Violent films were allowed, many martial arts films were released during this time in South Korea, melodramas were allowed, and propaganda films were obviously allowed, which were often financed by the government. Even films with explicit content were allowed. They were known as ‘hostess films’ and featured at least one character playing the role of a prostitute or a bar girl. But what wasn’t allowed? Making films addressing real socio-political issues. Far from films criticizing the government, any film addressing any issue in the country wasn’t allowed. A sharp contrast to the present-day Korea. Today, Korean content landscape is diverse and thriving. Icons like Gangnam Style, BTS, and Squid Game have achieved global recognition. If you don’t believe me, you can check it out Amazon Mini TV, it has a plethora of Korean content on it. The top 5 Korean shows include Cheer Up, Warm Meet You, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Buk-Joo, She Was Pretty, and Tempted. Among them, the show Cheer Up stands out to me, it’s about friendship, life, dreams, and passion it is an inspiring story of an underdog that resonates with many. When watching foreign language content one problem is, you can’t understand the language. But Amazon Mini TV provides Hindi dubs, and Tamil and Telugu dubs for select shows. This allows viewers to enjoy content from around the world in their preferred language, providing a unique opportunity to explore diverse cultures. The Amazon Mini TV app is easily downloadable from the Play Store, and you don’t need a subscription to watch any shows. The platform is ad-supported, enabling users to enjoy all content for free, and the best part is that there are new additions every week. You can find the link to download Amazon Mini TV in the description below. I want to thank them for sponsoring this video. Now, let’s return to our main topic. During the period of dictatorship, South Korea implemented a ban on foreign songs, as reported by the New York Times in 1975. South Korea Banned ‘Decadent’ Foreign Music The ban covered every foreign song that didn’t have a ‘moral standard’, leading to the creation of two extensive blacklists comprising over 260 songs. This included protest songs, rock songs, folk songs, and even iconic works like Bob Dylan’s legendary ‘Blowing in the Wind.’ The restrictions persisted until the 1990s when democracy was restored, marking a turning point. In 1993, the Hollywood film Jurassic Park gained immense popularity globally, generating substantial revenue at the box office. The South Korean Presidential Advisory Board on Science and Technology submitted a report to the South Korean President highlighting the Hollywood film’s financial success, equating it to the revenue from selling 1.5 million Hyundai cars. After this, the government decided to promote media production as a strategic industry. That same year, a Korean film, Seo Pyeon Je, was released in Korean cinemas. People weren’t expecting much from this film at this point in time. Because only Hollywood films were hits on the South Korean box office. But this film was based on traditional folk story telling. This film was so loved by the masses that this became the first Korean film to sell over 1 million tickets, solely in Seoul, the South Korean capital. This success prompted the government to recognise the potential of the media industry. They decided to turn Korean culture into a global export and took proactive measures to facilitate its growth. To understand this focus on exports, it’s essential to consider the Korean economy. Between 1962 and 1989, the nominal GDP per capita of South Korea increased fiftyfold, from $104 in 1962 to $5,438 in 1989. General Park nationalized numerous private banks across the country, due to the dictatorship, Park controlled almost everything, overseeing aspects such as interest rates, tax benefits, foreign exchange allocation, and import/export licenses, Park controlled everything. General Park used his control to promote the Chaebols, which is a Korean term for large family businesses. These entities were shielded from foreign competition, and the government permitted them to exploit labour within the country. If you’d recall my case study on Singapore, where I discussed how Singapore became so developed, in case you haven’t watched it, the link to that video is in the description. The problems faced by Singapore back then were similar to the challenges faced by South Korea. Small nations, grappling with small domestic markets, limited domestic savings due to poverty, and a lack of natural resources, this meant that if the country wanted to grow, it had to focus on exports. Export-oriented industrialization. Like Singapore, South Korea focused on this too. It placed various manufactured goods like wigs, stuffed toys, shipbuilding, automobiles, home electronics, products, chemicals, and semiconductors, on its export list, aiming to propel growth by exporting these products worldwide. While trying to export all it could, the government decided to export the Korean culture too. This is why, in 1994, the South Korean government established the Cultural Industry Bureau. The outdated motion picture law was replaced with a new Film Promotion Law in 1996. Unlike the previous law, which imposed restrictions on film content, the new law encouraged filmmakers and artists to express themselves freely. In the meanwhile, a media policy report was submitted to the government addressing concerns about individuals and small businesses competing with large multinational foreign companies. Notably, major corporations like Samsung, Hyundai, and Daewoo, started expanding into the media industry. These companies took on various roles in the domestic film production, foreign film import, distribution, and exhibition. These chaebols were involved in everything. Since these companies did not lack the financial strength, it allowed for proper film production for the first time in South Korea. Market research was conducted to understand audience preferences, and film companies hired the expertise of MBAs and graduates from prestigious universities. With support from Chaebols, big-budget blockbuster films were made. Like this film, Shiri. The first Hollywood-style, big-budget, blockbuster film of the Korean film industry. This melodramatic action film adopted Hollywood storytelling techniques while maintaining distinctly Korean content. Samsung produced this film on a budget of 2.4 billion won, and the year it was released, it outperformed the blockbuster Titanic in South Korea, becoming the highest-grossing film in Korea at the time. The success of such films sparked increased interest among Koreans for watching local cinema. Film production companies were encouraged to showcase their films internationally. However, in 1997, a severe financial crisis hit South Korea. “The global markets worried that other Asian countries might have similar hidden floors.” The Asian Financial Crisis, three of the most affected countries were Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea. The IMF stepped in to assist, while imposing several conditions. For this economic crisis in South Korea, Chaebols and crony capitalism were held responsible. The economic crisis revealed illegal insider trading, tax evasion, and indirect cross-ownership practices. The IMF told the South Korean government that they needed to address these problems before getting IMF’s help. In response, the South Korean government introduced 8 new rules regarding Chaebols. One key rule stipulated that these large family-owned businesses shouldn’t be allowed to enter all sectors and should focus solely on their core sectors. This is why companies like Samsung and Hyundai aren’t still in the film production business. Due to the new rules, the chaebols withdrew from film production business. Paving the way for new, younger entrants. While the financial crisis had a detrimental impact on the Korean economy it also affected the international perception of Korea. Korean President Kim Dae-Jung recognized the potential of culture not only for economic recovery but also for rebranding the country. Kim Dae-Jung is highly respected in South Korea even now, often referred to as the ‘Culture President,’ It was because of him and his successor Roh Moo-Hyun, that a cultural revolution began in South Korea. Interestingly, Kim Dae-Jung is the sole Korean Nobel Prize winner. How did he usher in these changes? Firstly, fund allocation. In 1999, Kim established the Basic Laws for the Cultural Industry Promotion Project, he allocated $148.5 million for its implementation. A dedicated department was formed in the Ministry of Culture, focusing on Korean Pop Music. Secondly, infrastructure development with the construction of multimillion-dollar concert auditoriums, Culture Industry Departments were formed in universities nationwide, and Noraebangs popping up all over the country. Noraebangs are basically karaoke bars where people could enjoy singing and drinking. Thirdly, the Digital Korea initiative. Many people believe that the surge in popularity of Korean TV shows and films is because during the pandemic people were stuck at home looking for new content on YouTube and OTT platforms. And so everyone just happened to start watching Korean content. But actually, Kim Dae-Jung had laid the groundwork much earlier. In 1998, broadband services were introduced for South Korean households, and broadband connections were promoted so much that by 2004, almost 12 million households had broadband connections, earning Korea the title of the world’s most wired nation. Fourthly, the removal of censorship.

Cultural Renaissance under Kim Dae-Jung

Kim Dae-Jung relaxed all censorship laws. Previously, as I had said, anyone making serious films addressing national socio-economic issues risked being labelled anti-national, they could be accused of promoting the enemy state North Korea, and under the National Security Act, filmmakers could face arrest. But Kim embraced artistic and creative freedom, he abolished the board review process, and introduced an American-style age rating system. This allowed filmmakers to openly portray the challenges faced by common people. This is why films like Parasite, gained immense popularity worldwide. Parasite won the Best Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival and became the first non-English film to win an Oscar for the Best Film. What was this film about? South Korea’s extreme inequality. The social divide between the poor and rich in Korea, was presented to the world. No one accused director Bong Joon-Ho of insulting the nation. Of exploiting the country’s poverty on the global stage. In fact, South Korean President Moon Jae-In praised the film, describing it as the most Korean story. Within Korea, people celebrated the film’s global success, and a major reason for its popularity is that the real issues portrayed in the film are not unique to Korea; people all over the world could relate to these, poverty, unemployment, crime, and gender discrimination. These issues aren’t Korea specific. These are evident in other countries as well. They resonate with people worldwide on an emotional level. Reflecting on the 1990s, there emerged a generation in Korea known as the 386 generation, individuals born in the 1960s who were politically active in the democracy movement of the 1980s. By the early 1990s, this generation, now in their 30s, became the first to have the opportunity to travel abroad. That’s right. Until then, foreign travel for Koreans was restricted. Citizens were banned from going on foreign trips for tourism. This was because the government was concerned about depleting foreign currency.

Korean Wave: K-Drama and K-Pop Phenomenon

As the economy improved and liberalization took place, these restrictions were lifted, allowing the 386 generation to travel abroad. to study in foreign film schools, and gain new perspectives on life and filmmaking while travelling. Many from this generation went on to become renowned film directors, left-leaning directors who focused on making films on significant social issues. Such as Bong Joon-Ho and Kim Ki-Duk, are notable examples. I talked about Bong Joon-Ho’s film Parasite, other remarkable films by him are Okja and Snowpiercer, These are also critical commentaries on capitalism. On the other hand, Kim Ki-Duk’s film Pieta, depicts the story of a heartless loan recovery agent, it won the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. The most popular Korean film internationally back then was Oldboy by Park Chan-Wook. A violent and dark revenge drama, that was unofficially remade in India called Zinda. Hollywood officially remade the film ‘Oldboy,’ maintaining the same title. At one point, dark thrillers were the most popular genre in Korea, the Bollywood film Ek Villain was inspired by the Korean film ‘I Saw The Devil.’ Bollywood film ‘Murder 2’ copied the Korean movie ‘The Chaser,’ while ‘The Outlaws’ were copied as ‘Radhe’ and ‘Most Wanted Bhai.’ The Korean film industry didn’t want to be stereotyped as producing dark thrillers only, so the Korean film industry introduced a variety of romantic and comedy blockbusters, including ‘Il Mare’ released in 2000, it was the first Korean film to be remade in Hollywood as ‘The Lake House.’ In the realm of dramas, the first successful Korean drama was ‘What is Love,’ it marked a milestone by becoming the first TV show officially exported to China, airing on China Central Television in 1997. Many consider this the initial indication of Hallyu, Hallyu means the Korean wave, this Korean wave gained momentum over the decades, Hallyu was at the next level. “Hallyu, also known as The Korean Wave.” “The K-Wave” “The Korean Wave” kDrama reached its peak with ‘Squid Game’ becoming the most-watched web show on Netflix. The question arises: What makes Korean dramas so special, addictive and popular? The key factor is their emotional realism. From the emotional perspective, the stories are often realistic. Additionally, these dramas explore diverse backgrounds, whether it’s the historical Korea depicted in ‘Royal Secret Agent,’ or the world of journalism in ‘Hush,’ or the folklore fantasy in ‘Tale of the Nine-Tailed.’ Third, kDramas are visually appealing. And fourth, the creativity of writers in crafting engaging storylines. Interestingly, 94.6% of kDrama screenwriters are actually women. According to estimates from the Korean Broadcast Writers Union. Regarding music, Japanese content was initially banned in South Korea as a part of their decolonization process. However, Kim played a pivotal role in improving relations between Japan and South Korea by lifting the ban. This led to the introduction of Japanese pop songs, known as J-Pop, in South Korea. H.O.T. was one of the first-generation Korean boy bands. Their 1996 debut album ‘We Hate All Kinds of Violence’ sold 1.5 million copies. This band, formed by SM Entertainment, Before putting together this band, the founder of the company sought input from students on their idea of the ideal pop group. After this, they conducted auditions to select band members. These individuals were then extensively trained in a structured idol system, a concept initially borrowed from Japan but now K-Pop is a global phenomenon. Talent agencies often scout idol trainees through street castings or global auditions, providing comprehensive training in singing, acting, dancing, and media communication. The company then decides their stage name, stage personality, and fan interactions. Some people criticise this system and compare the music companies to factories with the trainee contracts labelled as slave contracts. However, some people defend the system because it gives everyone an opportunity to become popular based on their talent and looks. Notably, PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ gained popularity similarly, A Korean song with an English punchline. It had a catchy tune and an interesting dance step. Due to a combination of these reasons, the song went on to be so popular that in December 2012, this became the first YouTube video to reach 1 billion views. After this, many Korean songs have used this format. Most of the lyrics would be in Korean but the hook would be in English, This allowed the songs to appeal to the non-Korean speaking people all over the world. Today, there are bands like BTS and Blackpink. BTS, a 7-member boy band, achieved milestones such as meeting U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House, performing at the United Nations General Assembly, and having their song ‘Dynamite’ become the first K-pop song to reach 1 billion streams on Spotify. The dedicated fanbase of BTS is known as the BTS Army, you might have seen them trending on Twitter often. And Blackpink, the 4-member girl band, gained immense popularity too. Their fans call themselves the Blink Army. These gave a significant boost to the South Korean soft power. Today, South Korea is a cultural super power. that not only benefits the Korean economy but also boosts Korean tourism.

images (4)


Iraqi and Ugandan war

 Obote vs Museveni

The conflict between the government of Obote and the guerrillas led by Yoweri Museveni, which could be referred to as the Ugandan Bush War, would last for more than five years. In 1985, Obote fled Uganda as Museveni and his followers gained the upper hand. This occurred after Museveni achieved victory. The guerrilla fighters then entered Kampala in January of 1986, and Museveni, who had initially fled to Tanzania when he was a young man in his twenties, became the new president of Uganda. Museveni had fled to Tanzania on multiple occasions. When Museveni and his National Resistance Movement came to power in Kampala, it was not a new beginning for Uganda by any stretch of the imagination. As a result of his recent re-election in January 2021, Museveni is one of the world’s longest serving heads of state. He has never left office and has never been removed from his position. Furthermore, ever since then, Ugandan politics has been plagued by violations of human rights and the oppression of minority groups.

Amin’s Regime: Its Effects and the Number of Deaths

Nevertheless, this Ugandan Bush War would not involve Idi Amin because it took place in the 1980s and was fought in Uganda. In the 1970s, he was primarily responsible for the bloodshed that occurred during that time period. It is difficult to get an accurate idea of exactly how many deaths Amin’s regime was actually responsible for. This is due to the fact that Uganda had an ill-defined population level at the time, which made it difficult to assess the number of deaths from censuses and other statistical data. Additionally, the killings and disappearances that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people were not officially recorded. This makes it difficult to get an accurate estimate of the number of deaths that Amin’s regime was responsible for. Additionally, it is frequently challenging to determine what should be counted. During these years, for example, thousands of people lost their lives in Uganda. These deaths were not the direct result of a directive issued by the government; rather, they were the indirect consequence of Amin’s establishment of a military state in which senior members of the army were able to kill people without fear of repercussions. In the same way, the mismanagement of the economy contributed to the number of fatalities, but this time in a roundabout way. Despite these limitations, it is generally accepted today, based on claims made by Amnesty International, that Amin’s regime was responsible for the deaths of at least 300,000 people between the years 1971 and 1979. However, there is evidence from census records that suggests a population decline of somewhere between 420,000 and 800,000. In spite of the fact that it may not be possible to provide an exact number, it is indisputable that Amin’s regime was one of the most brutal dictatorships that the African continent witnessed during the 1970s. It was responsible for causing the people of Uganda to endure a great deal of difficulties throughout the decade. Following the flight that departed from Kampala, Amin did not immediately depart from Uganda.

Afterwards, Amin’s Life and Movements in the World

Over the course of a few weeks, he was free to roam the eastern part of the country and even made an attempt to establish an opposition government with the city of Jinja, which is located on Lake Victoria, serving as its capital. However, he quickly came to terms with the true nature of the situation and left the country entirely. He initially travelled to Libya, where his former ally Gaddafi provided him with temporary refuge. However, in 1980 he moved further east and settled in Jeddah, which is located in Saudi Arabia. The government of Saudi Arabia provided him with official sanctuary upon his arrival. In his first post-rule interview, which he gave shortly after his arrival in that country, he defended his rule as the ruler of Uganda and asserted that many people in his country of origin desired for him to be reinstated to his position. Amin would never return to power or play another major role in political life, despite the fact that he attempted to return to Uganda in 1989 when he flew to Zaire that was experiencing a major war that had implications for several neighbouring countries including Uganda. Despite these assertions, Amin would never return to power or play a further major role in political life. Amin had hoped that he could use the disorder as a means of constructing a support base for his return to Uganda, which had been plunged into fresh disorder itself in the late 1980s. This was the situation that Amin had hoped to achieve. Amin was back in Saudi Arabia within a few months, where a reluctant Saudi government had been coerced by the United States and other countries into accepting Amin back again. The mission was unsuccessful, and Amin returned to Saudi Arabia almost immediately. Amin spent the rest of his life in Saudi Arabia because he did not make any further attempts to intervene in the Ugandan government. In addition to this, he was strongly cautioned against giving interviews to the media or appearing on television. And he remained relatively close to his villa in Jeddah. His later years were filled with a cycle of sporting events, gym sessions, and massage parlours. Additionally, he was frequently seen driving his Range Rover or Chevrolet Caprice to the airport for shopping trips and visits to the airport, where Amin frequently had to clear packages of goods from Uganda through customs. When the ‘Whisky Runs’ from Stansted Airport to Kampala in the 1970s were full of luxury goods, they were succeeded by packages of cassava and other East African foods arriving in Jeddah in the 1990s. These packages were the successor to the ‘Whisky Runs’ for luxury goods. It is interesting to note that during these years, there were only a few calls for Amin to be tried for his war crimes in any international court. Finally, during the summer of 2003, his family reported that the former dictator was in a coma in a Jeddah hospital due to kidney failure. This occurred at a time when he was either eighty years old or very close to reaching that age. The response that he would be prosecuted if he set foot in Uganda was given in response to a request made by his family for him to be permitted to return to Uganda in order to ultimately die there. It was for this reason that Amin passed away in Jeddah on August 16, 2003, when his life support was turned off. He was laid to rest in a grave in the Saudi Arabian capital that was largely unremarkable. It is beyond reasonable doubt that Idi Amin was a cruel and repressive dictator. His regime was responsible for the implementation of extensive political oppression from the very beginning of its existence. It also exacerbated religious and ethnic divisions within Uganda as a means of dividing its people and exercising authority over them. This was done rather than attempting to bring together the various groups that comprised Ugandan society in order to establish a powerful Uganda in the years following the country’s independence. Throughout the 1970s, the regime oppressed large portions of its population. It was led by an individual who was becoming increasingly unstable, who may have been suffering from a form of dementia caused by syphilis, and who had always been an immoral and excessively violent individual. The precise number of deaths that can be directly attributed to the regime is unknown; however, a conservative estimate would suggest that at least 300,000 people have lost their lives. Additionally, the regime’s incompetent management of the economy has further impoverished millions of people. The dictator then turned to trying to initiate regional wars with Uganda’s neighbours in order to shore up his support back home. This was done in order to take advantage of the fact that his administration was becoming increasingly unpopular, even among the groupings that Amin had attempted to explicitly cultivate as his allies. The implementation of this policy, however, was unsuccessful, and the war that broke out with Tanzania in 1978 resulted in Amin’s immediate removal from power and subsequent exile the following year. This brought an end to the eight-year reign of one of the most brutal dictators in Africa. Amin’s rise to power and the manner in which it took place, on the other hand, serves as a striking reminder of the failures that occurred during the decolonization of Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. The British provided Amin with training, and he progressed to a position of authority within the King’s African Rifles. When he was responsible for a major atrocity committed against civilians in Uganda on the eve of the country’s independence, it was decided to forego court-martialing him and to brush the event under the carpet. This was due to the fact that it was not considered politically shrewd to prosecute him at that time. In the event that he had been, it would have been possible to avoid his regime. Due to the fact that they had their own geopolitical interests at stake, the governments of the United Kingdom and Israel later supported him in his attempt to seize power from Milton Obote in 1971. As a result of narrow self-serving concerns such as these, countries on both sides of the Cold War were able to facilitate the rise to power and the maintenance of dictators such as Amin and Joseph Mobotu in neighbouring Congo or Zaire during the post-independence period in Africa. Nevertheless, those who helped Amin rise to power in 1971 may not have been aware of the consequences that would follow. Between the years 1971 and 1979, a dictator who was becoming increasingly unstable and his followers were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans, the displacement of many more, and the destabilisation of the entire East African region. Amin was able to live freely in exile after he was removed from power in 1979, and he was never indicted by an international court. This is a very unfortunate circumstance.

images (4)


The deteriorating state of Amin’s personal life and state of transformation

Within the decade of the 1970s, Amin’s own behaviour and way of life were undergoing transformations as he became more unpredictable. During the 1960s and 1970s, the dictator was said to have married at least six different women. He was a polygamist. In the year 1974, he divorced three of these individuals, and in the months that followed, two of them passed away under mysterious circumstances. Following that, in the summer of 1975, he tied the knot with Sarah Kyolaba, a go-go dancer who was only 19 years old. The wedding was a massive affair that cost two million pounds, and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people, served as his best man. It is possible that he had as many as fifty children in total, and it is also possible that he had many more children through his many concubines. A significant number of these were brought up in a variety of palaces and luxury houses that Amin gradually acquired all over the country. In the meantime, Amin, who had been physically fit and a passionate sportsman when he was younger, reached his fifties and began to experience a gradual increase in his size. He was a rabidly paranoid individual who was concerned about conspiracies being launched against him. This is a concern that is not unjustifiable for an individual in his position; however, this concern frequently escalated into bouts of pure insanity. In later years, Bob Astles recounted the experience of being contacted by government officials who believed that he had acted as a moderating influence on Amin during times when he was, quote, “out of control.”

The syphilis virus

Syphilis’s Influence on Amin’s Behaviour and Behaviour

An issue that appears to have become a major factor affecting his personality and his actions as ruler of Uganda was the fact that he had contracted syphilis in his younger years and by the 1970s may have been suffering from partial dementia as a result of tertiary syphilis. This was a problem that seemed to have become a major factor. Given this, it is possible that some of his more peculiar behaviours, as well as the allegations of cannibalism that were levelled against him towards the end of his dictatorship, could be explained. It was in the late 1970s when an Israeli physician who had previously worked in Uganda made the following statement: “It is no secret that Amin is suffering from the advanced stages of syphilis, which has caused brain damage.” It is possible that this is also the reason why Amin sent a telegram to Kurt Waldheim, who was serving as the secretary general of the United Nations at the time. In the telegram, Amin praised the actions of Adolf Hitler, the Nazi dictator of Germany, and seemed to imply that the Holocaust was carried out by setting people on fire with gas. Following this, it became increasingly apparent that Africa was dealing with a partial madman. The message quickly spread to the leaders of the world, and it became clear that this was the case. While this was going on, Amin’s relations with the Soviet Union, which was one of his last remaining supporters economically and militarily, were damaged as a result of the praise that he heaped on German actions during the Second World War.

The Participation of Amin in Multiple International Crises

The incident of Entebbe Airport being hijacked

All of this was compounded in 1976 by one of the most notorious incidents that was associated with Amin and his regime. On the 27th of June during that summer, a plane belonging to Air France was taken over by terrorists while it was travelling from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens. It was rerouted to Entebbe Airport, which is located outside of Kampala, and it quickly became apparent to the international media that Amin was working in conjunction with Palestinian terrorists and members of the Revolutionary Zellen, which was a West German urban guerrilla movement that was responsible for the hijacking. Within the hours that followed, the passengers who were not Jewish were freed from the plane. At the same time, demands were made that dozens of Palestinian political prisoners who were being held in Israel be released. If this was not done, the kidnappers would begin the process of executing the Jewish hostages on July 1st. Nevertheless, what transpired was a remarkable rescue operation in which Israeli commandos flew from Israel to Uganda, refuelling in Nairobi, which is located in the neighbouring country of Kenya, in order to liberate the hostages. Because the Israeli contractors had constructed the airport at Entebbe many years earlier, they were familiar with the precise layout of the airport. As a consequence of this, on the evening of July 4th, approximately one hundred Israeli commandos were able to land in a surprise attack, free nearly all of the hostages, blow up the majority of the Ugandan air force’s fighter planes that were stationed at Entebbe, and then take off again out of Uganda. All of these events occurred in a mission that lasted for only ninety minutes. As soon as Amin awoke the following morning, he was both perplexed and furious by the events that had transpired. Amin’s participation in the facilitation of the hijacking of the Air France flight by Palestinians in the summer of 1976 was just one of the increasingly provocative activities he was engaging in on the international stage during the latter half of the 1970s.

lAggressive Posturing on the International Stage

To a large extent, it was evident that the Kenyan government had made it easier for the Israeli mission to liberate their citizens at Entebbe by allowing them to refuel in Nairobi. There is no doubt that Amin’s increasingly jingoistic attitude towards the Kenyan regime was a source of annoyance for everyone involved. In the year 1902, the British government had incorporated a significant portion of what was then known as western Kenya into the boundaries of the protectorate of Uganda. Following Kenya’s attainment of its independence, these very same lands were eventually recaptured and incorporated into the country. However, around the middle of the 1970s, Amin started to push a claim that was largely without foundation, which was that this region of western Kenya was actually Ugandan land or a part of a “greater Uganda.” If this had occurred, there is no doubt that the government in Nairobi would have been more inclined to support the Israeli rescue mission that took place in July of 1976. However, it did have repercussions because in the weeks that followed the incident with Air France, Amin carried out a series of retaliatory killings that resulted in the deaths of hundreds or even thousands of ethnic Kenyans who were residing in Uganda.

Disputes between Amin and various religious groups and opposition

Throughout the middle of the 1970s, religious leaders all over Uganda had become increasingly concerned about the divisive nature of the regime’s approaches towards Uganda’s Muslim population and its Christian population. Amin had purposefully solicited the support of the Muslim populace while simultaneously suppressing a number of Christian churches. In the latter part of 1976, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Janani Luwum, presided over a conference that included leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, and Muslim communities. He had been particularly vocal about the necessity of reducing religious tensions. It was at this meeting that an agreement was reached, which stated that all parties involved would work going forward to ease religious divisions within the country. However, when Amin, who had not been informed of the gathering beforehand, learned of this, he had Luwum arrested on fabricated charges of having plotted an armed insurrection. After that, on February 17, 1977, Luwum was displayed in front of the international media in a manner that was basically a parade. Amin’s regime issued a statement the following day stating that the archbishop had been killed in a car accident. The statement was issued the day after. In spite of this, nobody was fooled, and subsequent reports indicate that Amin may have even shot Luwum himself. Following that, the archbishop was hailed as a martyr throughout the world. After that, Amin was not invited to a meeting of the heads of the Commonwealth states, which was another indication of how unstable he was and how isolated his regime had become. This occurred shortly after the previous event. The actions taken by Luwum and the other religious leaders were illustrative of the manner in which senior figures in Uganda were becoming more and more opposed to Amin’s regime. This extended all the way up to the ranks of his organisation. Already in 1975, Amin’s Finance Minister, Emmanuel Blayo Wakhweya, had defected to Britain while he was in London. However, the defection of Henry Kyemba, Amin’s Health Minister, in 1977 was even more damaging than the previous one. A State of Blood, a blistering indictment of Amin’s brutality and bloodletting, was published shortly after Kyemba penned an account of the Amin regime from the inside. Kyemba’s account was published as A State of Blood. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the international community’s disdain for Amin and his regime severely hindered Amin’s ability to govern Uganda, it would not be enough to remove him from power.

Political rifts and betrayals within the organisation

As long as Amin maintained a complete command over the armed forces and the government within the borders of the country, he would be able to continue to hold his position. Nevertheless, this was becoming less and less the case. By the end of 1977, a rift had developed within the Ugandan military between those who continued to be unwaveringly loyal to Amin and those who favoured the Vice President, General Mustafa Adrisi, over the crazed individual that Amin appeared to be at the time. Amin would enter into a conflict that would ultimately result in the downfall of his regime in 1978. He did so with the intention of bolstering his own authority and aware of Adrisi’s growing power. This conflict would ultimately lead to the downfall of his regime. The relationship between Amin’s Uganda and Tanzania, which is located to the south, had been tense and even hostile at times for a number of years. Milton Obote had established himself in exile in this location in 1971, and it was from this location that some of his supporters attempted to launch the unsuccessful invasion of Uganda in the autumn of 1972. In addition, by the time the 1970s came to a close, it had become the impetus for Amin’s ultimate rebellion.

Political rifts and betrayals within the organisation

The rebellion occurred in the southern region of Uganda, close to the Tanzanian border, in the late autumn of 1978. The troops were loyal to Adrisi. When fighting broke out in this area, Amin made the decision to effectively turn the engagement into a war with Tanzania. This would allow him to strengthen his support within Uganda and allow him to consolidate his control over the country. It’s possible that he made this decision with a half-hearted attitude when he realised that he had lost control of certain elements of the army on the southern border, and he wanted to take credit for their incursions into Tanzanian territory afterward. The beginning of the Uganda-Tanzania War was a successful one for Amin, regardless of the circumstances. Amin was able to announce that he intended to annex the Kagera region of northern Tanzania as 1978 was coming to a close. This was made possible by Ugandan forces entering the region in large numbers during the early winter months and occupying it in such a way that they were able to do so. On the other hand, the circumstances would go through a dramatic transformation in 1979. Julius Nyerere, the president of Tanzania, initiated the mobilisation of the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force in January 1979 with the intention of launching an assault against Amin’s armies who were located further north. A large group of Ugandans who had been living in exile in Tanzania and who were opposed to the Amin regime decided to join them. These Ugandans had been living in Tanzania. Amin’s forces began to lose ground in certain areas as they moved north, while in other areas they were defeated against them. By crossing the western border into the Congo, some units were able to escape. In the course of the transition from winter to spring in 1979, the majority of the population was gradually compelled to return to Kampala. Amin was now desperately looking for assistance from other countries; however, despite his appeals to Saudi Arabia and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, he received only minimal support from Gaddafi in Libya and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. The battle of Lukaya, which took place on March 10 and 11, was the decisive engagement of the war. It took place south-west of Kampala and was the final engagement of the conflict. There, a joint Tanzanian and Ugandan exile army, which had little tank support but far superior infantry numbers, was able to overrun a force consisting of 2,000 Ugandan troops and 1,000 Libyans, which was supported by 18 tanks. During the hours that followed the defeat, and as the news of it arrived in Kampala, many people urged Amin to accept the situation and step down as the leader of Uganda. At the very end, Amin maintained his defiant stance in Kampala. Even though Tanzanian and Ugandan exile troops were drawing near to Entebbe airport, which is located on the shores of Lake Victoria to the southwest of the capital, he refused to back down and even fired Yusuf Gowon, who was serving as his military chief of staff prior to the conflict. It was on April 11, 1979, the date that is generally considered to be the date that marked the end of the Idi Amin regime in Uganda, that he eventually fled from Kampala by helicopter. This was due to the fact that the number of supporters he had was decreasing, and the belligerents were getting closer and closer to the capital itself. On the other hand, peace did not immediately return to Uganda in the months that followed in its wake. In May of 1980, a new military coup took place, which was followed by the formation of a loose civilian government that was comprised of various interest groups. However, this government was unable to function effectively, and it was severely divided. In the short term, this would result in the establishment of a military government; however, in contrast to Amin in 1971, the interim military governor, Paulo Muwunga, was successful in paving the way for elections and a transition to a civilian government by the end of 1980. During these elections, none other than Milton Obote was re-elected to the position of president of Uganda. However, Milton Obote’s return to power in the elections of 1980 was met with opposition from a number of different parties. The Uganda People’s Congress, which is led by Obote, was favoured in the elections, according to the beliefs of a number of groups, which may or may not have been supported by substantial evidence. As a consequence of this, a guerrilla war broke out in Uganda at the same time that Obote was taking office for a new term as president. This war was fought between his government and those who did not acknowledge its status as legitimate.

download (39)


Benedicto Kiwanuka

Fate of Dissenters under Amin’s Rule

All those individuals within the nation who voiced their opposition to this, including the Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, were met with a severe consequence. In the process of Uganda’s transition to independence, Kiwanuka was a significant figure from the beginning. Following the granting of the right of self-governance to the country and prior to the elections that had brought Obote to power, he had briefly served as a technocratic Prime Minister of Uganda in the early 1960s. This event occurred after the elections that had brought Obote to power. It was in 1969 when Obote’s government had imprisoned him, but Amin, when he took power in 1971, freed him from prison. When he first attempted to cooperate with the new government, he was appointed to the position of chief justice of the country. Nevertheless, in September of 1972, he was arrested for his criticism of Amin regarding the way in which the Asian community was treated, in addition to other issues. Makindye Military Prison was the location where Amin’s forces carried out the execution of the individual on September 22nd. The manner in which he was put to death is illustrative of Amin’s terrible nature. The ears, nose, and lips of Kiwanuka were severed before he was castrated, disembowelled, and set ablaze. Furthermore, he was burned. A further very significant aspect of the expulsion of the Asian community in 1972 was seen in the months and years that followed with the collapse of the economy of Uganda. This was a consequence of the expulsion as well. There were approximately 50,000 to 60,000 Asian-Ugandans who had been expelled from the country. These individuals had control over a significant portion of the country’s commercial and industrial sectors. Amin’s followers within the military were now in possession of these businesses once they were handed over.

Economic Fallout from Asian Expulsion

These were typically people who were not familiar with how to run the businesses that they were given, and they frequently lacked the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills that are required to engage in commercial transactions. The agricultural machinery that was utilised for crop production eventually broke down and could not be repaired or maintained. In the past, cotton gins that became jammed or stopped functioning were never used again. The collapse of cement factories in Tororo and Fort Portal was perhaps the most ironic indication of the complete mismanagement of the economy. These factories were located in the same region. In the middle of the 1970s, the Ugandan economy went into a tailspin as a direct consequence of this. There was a subsequent increase in prices as a result of shortages of all kinds of goods that these companies had either produced or imported, and these shortages took place. Amin’s rule brought about a steady increase in inflation, and by 1975 and 1976, the economy of Uganda was on the verge of collapsing out of existence.

Amin’s International Relations and Diplomatic Tensions

During the years that followed the expulsion of Uganda’s Asian community, Amin engaged in a posture that became increasingly confrontational on the international stage. Amin was successful in alienating London by expelling fourteen members of the British High Commission, who had been installed in Kampala as a kind of post-colonial oversight committee following the granting of independence in 1962. By the end of 1972, the majority of British citizens had already left the country. Amin’s actions were successful in alienating London. There was also a very peculiar situation in which planes were regularly flying out of Stansted Airport in London carrying cargoes of luxury European goods for Amin and other senior members of his regime. This was in spite of the fact that western countries were increasing the sanctions they were imposing against Amin’s regime. Despite the fact that Amin and his followers were supposed to be subject to trade sanctions, the so-called “Whisky Run” was able to operate without any restrictions. And all of this was taking place at the same time that Amin was increasingly seeking assistance from Libya and the Soviet Union. At the same time, he was also condemning the continued support of the west for the apartheid regime in South Africa, as well as condemning Israel, his other former ally, as a result of its participation in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. It was in 1975 when Amin’s regime hosted the summit of the Organisation of African Unity in Kampala, with Amin serving as the summit’s chairman. This diplomatic rift with the west reached its climax at that time. The British foreign secretary, James Callaghan, had come to the summit specifically to intercede with Amin concerning the release of the British author, Denis Hills, who had referred to Amin as a “village tyrant” in a recent book called The White Pumpkin. Here, he effectively press-ganged several Britons into carrying him into a reception at the summit, while at the same time he publicly embarrassed Callaghan. After leaving, Callaghan was under the impression that there was no longer any possibility of Amin cooperating with him. However, Hills, who had been sentenced to death prior to Callaghan’s intervention, was spared by the Ugandan government. In the meantime, Amin continued to strengthen his ties to the Soviet Union throughout the entire process. By the time 1975 came to a close, the regime had been provided with tens of millions of dollars in economic aid and military assistance from Moscow. In addition, Amin had sent several thousand Ugandan troops to Eastern Europe in order to receive training in modern military techniques. Along the same lines, the Soviet government was interested in courting Amin as a means of geographically offsetting the perceived involvement of China in Tanzania and the influence of the British in Kenya. In addition, it was during the middle of the 1970s that Amin established a connection with a paramilitary organisation in Scotland. This organisation has been the subject of books and even a movie in recent years. During this time period, the Scottish National Liberation Army, a fringe paramilitary group in Scotland that had begun a low-level terrorist campaign in their home country, which included the posting of letter bombs, reached out to Amin. It was evident that they had heard of Amin’s fondness for the country. Amin expressed some sympathy for their aspiration to achieve independence from Britain. He even made a proposal to become King of Scotland in the event that they required his assistance in fulfilling the role. This would make him the first ruler of Scotland to be independent of Britain in nearly four hundred years. This bizarre suggestion, while an interesting indicator of Amin’s increasingly unhinged state of mind, was merely a footnote to his tenure as the dictator of Uganda, despite the fact that it became famous as a result of a book and film starring Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy subsequent to its initial obscurity.

Internal Oppression and Ethnic Favoritism

During the middle of the 1970s, all of these events were taking place on the international stage, but the regime continued its methods of brutality within the country. At the same time that Amin and his followers were openly favouring certain religious and ethnic groups within Uganda, they were also persecuting other groups. The Kakwas and Nubis, who were the dictator’s own ethnic groups, were given preference in the northern regions. Additionally, the Bagandans, who were the predominant ethnic group in the southern regions near Lake Victoria and around Kampala, were courted. In a similar manner, the small Muslim minority was given a great deal of preference because they practised the same religion as Amin. As an illustration, by the second half of the 1970s, Muslims held more than eighty percent of the top positions within the government and the military, despite the fact that they only made up about six percent of the total population. On the other hand, the state continued to effectively persecute a number of other religious and ethnic groups, the Acholi and Langi of the north-eastern and eastern regions of the country being the most prominent examples. Tens of thousands of people belonging to these categories continued to be murdered, demoted, assaulted, imprisoned, or evicted from their homes and lands throughout the middle of the 1970s. Amin continued to expand the already sizable Ugandan army, effectively turning it into a military aristocracy comprised of his supporters who ruled the country. This was done in order to achieve this level of oppression. Amin was able to carry out this oppression with the assistance of the State Research Bureau, which was a covert police organisation that had been established not long after he had taken power. However, the majority of its work is attributed to Robert or Bob Astles beginning in the middle of the 1970s and continuing onward. A British soldier and official who had served in the Second World War and then entered service in Africa, Astles was a legacy from the colonial era. He had fought in the war and then worked in Africa. In the end, he found himself in Uganda in 1949, and after remaining there for the subsequent thirteen years, he made the decision to stay here after the country gained its independence and began working for Obote’s government. In spite of the fact that he was detained for a short period of time after Amin’s coup d’état in 1971, he eventually managed to win the favour of the dictator and was given the position of head of the State Research Bureau in the middle of the 1970s. During the tenure of Astles, the Bureau was made responsible for the disappearance of thousands of individuals who were suspected of committing a variety of crimes. Additionally, the Bureau was charged with uncovering plots against Amin and the regime. Over the course of these years, it was not unusual to see people being coerced into the trunks of cars and driven away from the streets of Kampala and other cities in Uganda. Unfortunately, many of these individuals were never seen again after being taken away. It would appear that Amin placed his faith in Astles, despite the fact that he was becoming increasingly deranged and paranoid in the middle of the 1970s. Astles was one of the few people whom Amin knew was not attempting to overthrow him.

images (3)


Amin’s Ascendancy within Uganda’s Military

From Amin’s perspective, the strengthening of Obote’s grip on the nation was a positive development. Beginning in the early years of Uganda’s independence, he had already been steadily climbing the ranks of the Ugandan armed forces. At the time of Uganda’s independence in 1962, he was promoted to the rank of captain. In 1963, he was promoted to the rank of major, and in 1964, he was promoted to the position of deputy commander of the Ugandan military. Last but not least, Amin was promoted to the rank of one of the army’s commanders in 1965, when he was still only forty years old. 1970 was the year that he reached the pinnacle of the Ugandan military and was promoted to the position of overall commander of the Ugandan armed forces. As a result of his involvement in Obote’s corrupt dealings in Uganda, he was able to secure a significant portion of this meteoric rise throughout the continent during the 1960s. As a result of the rise of dictators across a significant portion of Africa during that time period, kleptocratic states came into existence. These states were characterised by the fact that the dictators and their followers effectively stole the resources of their countries in order to amass an enormous amount of wealth for themselves. During the middle of the 1960s, Amin was providing assistance to Obote in a smuggling operation that involved gold and ivory between Uganda and the Congo. At least some of this activity was carried out with the intention of facilitating the arming of separatists and rebels within the Congo; however, a significant portion of the proceeds were also stolen and put into the pockets of Obote, Amin, and their accomplices. It was the discovery of Obote and Amin’s smuggling activities in 1966 that played a significant role in Obote’s decision to seize absolute power in Uganda in the same year. It was by the late 1960s that Idi Amin had established himself as one of the most influential people in Uganda. As time went on, Obote’s regime became more and more oppressive. This was especially true after an attempt was made in 1969 to kill the dictator, which was unsuccessful. However, this event led to a further crackdown on any political or military dissent across the country, and Amin, who was Obote’s enforcer, was at the centre of these measures.

Amin’s Coup and Establishment of Dictatorship

It is now abundantly clear that Amin was conspiring throughout the late 1960s to seize power himself or, at the very least, to consolidate his hold over the military. This is the case despite the fact that an intimate relationship existed between Amin and Obote. In particular, he was recruiting a large number of soldiers from the Kakwa and Nubi regions of northern Uganda, which are located on the international border with Sudan. It was his own people of the same ethnicity, as well as fellow Muslims. In preparation for a potential takeover of power, Amin was strengthening his control over the Ugandan military by recruiting soldiers and officers from this region. This was done in order to strengthen his holdings over the military. In addition, it is highly likely that Amin was attempting to garner the support of both Britain and Israel for such a move. While Israel had been involved in Uganda during the 1960s and was eager to use Uganda and adjoining regions as a means of drawing the attention of its northern neighbours, Sudan and Egypt, away from Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Sinai Peninsula, Britain continued to have a significant amount of influence in East Africa. In the context of the Cold War, Britain was concerned about what it perceived to be the socialist policies being pursued by Obote by the time the Cold War began. As time went on, Amin’s schemes eventually reached a point of culmination in the early 1970s. Obote, who had already developed a sense of mistrust regarding Amin’s motives, removed the general from his position as the overall commanding officer of the Ugandan military and appointed himself to the position in October of 1970. The next step that he took was to begin the process of preparing charges of financial misconduct against Amin; however, he moved too slowly, which ultimately proved to be a fatal error. Over the course of this interim period, Amin had become aware of Obote’s intentions and had taken aggressive action against the president. Amin carried out a military coup on January 25, 1971, while Obote was absent from a meeting of the Commonwealth nations that was taking place in Singapore. Almost immediately, the capital city of Kampala, as well as a number of the most important communication outlets, such as radio stations, were taken control of. Therefore, Amin was able to inform the nation that he was taking power away from the corrupt Obote before the president, who was located several thousand kilometres away, could even react to the news. In his presentation, Amin portrayed himself as the protector of the constitution. He asserted that he would only serve in office for a short period of time, maybe a few weeks or months, during the transition back to a government that was democratically elected. When Obote returned to Africa, he would go to Tanzania, which is located nearby, where he had spent the 1970s living in exile. Within one of the most repressive dictatorships in Africa, Amin would remain in power for a period of eight years. During the weeks that followed the nearly bloodless coup that took place in January 1971, Amin quickly succeeded in consolidating his control over Uganda. It was on February 2nd that he made the announcement that he would be the new president of Uganda. He also reappointed himself as the overall commander of the Ugandan armed forces. In a short amount of time, the newly established government transformed into a military dictatorship, and any pretence of respecting the legal system and the previous constitution was quickly disestablished. The court system was largely replaced by military tribunals, and Amin’s followers within the army were appointed to a variety of senior political offices and civil jurisdictions, positions for which they typically lacked the necessary training. From that point forward, Amin would rule by decree, and he would rename the government headquarters in Kampala something called “The Command Post.” And then, in order to strengthen his grip on both the military and the civilian government, extensive purges were carried out in both of these sectors. Thousands of individuals were removed from their positions, and they were replaced by individuals who were devoted to Amin and his military government. During the beginning stages of the massive bloodletting that was characteristic of the Amin regime in Uganda throughout the 1970s, these individuals were frequently not merely removed from their positions but were also put to death by the regime. Amin’s attempt to seize power was not met with complete and utter resistance. As we have seen, Milton Obote had attempted to find refuge in Tanzania in 1971. Tanzania is Uganda’s neighbour to the south, and it is a larger and more prosperous country. It was at this point that Julius Nyerere, the president of Tanzania, extended his support to Obote while simultaneously withholding official recognition of Amin’s regime in Uganda. In addition, during the weeks and months that followed, as many as 20,000 Ugandans entered Tanzania from the south in an attempt to seek political asylum in this country. In a short amount of time, these individuals began to form into bands of guerrilla fighters who had received military training and began plotting ways to remove Amin from power. A young Yoweri Museveni, who would go on to play a significant part in the politics of Uganda in the years to come, was a member of these forces. Eventually, in September of 1972, certain individuals who were living in exile from Uganda began to take action. A strike force consisting of approximately 1,500 fighters crossed the northern border into Uganda with the intention of undertaking a coup that was comparable to the one that Amin carried out the year before. Following the seizure of Entebbe Airport, which is located outside of Kampala, the capital city would be secured, along with the primary radio stations, in order to ensure that the news of the coup could be disseminated throughout the nation. Nevertheless, these plans were never carried out in any way. Amin, who had beforehand knowledge of the invasion, was able to quickly put an end to it, despite the fact that it was a disaster. There were hundreds of invaders who were killed, and the conflict was over in a matter of days; however, it is a significant indicator of the role that Tanzania would play in the events that would follow. Amin’s regime was welcomed with open arms by the international community when it was first establishing itself with power. In 1971, the British and Israeli governments had shown their support for the coup, and they moved swiftly to recognise Amin’s regime as soon as he took power. They believed that the former KAR officer would be easier to deal with than Obote had been. And Amin was more than happy to encourage their delusions, presenting himself at this early stage as a reconciler of Uganda’s political, ethnic, and religious problems, someone who would unite the various religious groupings and ethnic peoples of the country. He saw himself as someone who would reconcile the problems that Uganda was facing. Therefore, during his state visits to Britain and Israel in July 1971, Amin was warmly received by both countries. During his time in Britain, he became acquainted with Edward Heath, the Prime Minister, and even had lunch at Buckingham Palace. Also, he made the most of the opportunity presented by the state visit by going back to Scotland, the country in which he had received his training in the 1950s. He would go on to give several of his sons Scottish names and even dress a regiment of the Ugandan army in Scottish kilts. Amin had a special fondness for the country, and he would go on to give his sons Scottish names throughout his life. It will be demonstrated that a few years later, in the middle of the 1970s, he even entertained the idea of forming a peculiar alliance with a Scottish paramilitary organisation, which ultimately led to him making an offer to become King of Scotland. Amin made a request for additional weapons in both London and Tel Aviv, with the intention of taking the fight to Tanzania; however, both governments in both locations declined his request. It is curious that neither the government of Britain nor the government of Israel appears to have gained a better understanding of the person they were actually dealing with when Amin visited their respective capitals in the summer of 1971. However, they quickly came to have suspicions about his true nature, and this quickly gave way to regret. Two Americans, a journalist by the name of Nicholas Stroh and a sociology lecturer by the name of Robert Siedle, who were investigating some of the early political killings associated with Amin’s regime, went to the Mbarara Army Barracks in July 1971. This occurred while Amin was dining at Buckingham Palace and reacquainting himself with Scotland. Amin was in Uganda at the time. They were cautioned against going there, but they chose to disregard these warnings, which would ultimately prove to be a fatal decision. It was at the Barracks that both of the men were killed. Almost immediately, the United States of America responded by initiating an investigation, which was accompanied by the participation of an American legal official named David Jeffrys Jones. Despite the fact that Jones quickly came to the conclusion that Amin’s men were responsible for the deaths of the two individuals, he fled the country out of fear for his own life before the investigation could be completed. The assassination of Stroh and Siedle was the first significant indication that Amin would not be the dependent strongman that the West believed he might be in Uganda. Other, more obvious indications of the potential difficulties that Amin could cause were quickly becoming apparent. The next step that Amin took was to make a phone call to Colonel Mu’ammar Al-Gaddafi, the de facto dictator of Libya. Amin’s request for additional arms and modern weaponry had been denied by the governments in London and Tel Aviv. Gaddafi had established himself in opposition to the former colonial powers after he had taken power in 1969. He started by expelling a significant portion of the Italian colonial community and seizing control of Western military bases that were strategically significant during the Cold War. In addition, he implemented some aspects of Islamic Sharia Law. Consequently, the fact that Amin was looking to form a partnership with the leader of Libya was quite ominous. In addition, during his trip to Libya, Amin presented a fantastical view of both his own country and himself in an effort to win Gaddafi’s support for the military. For instance, Amin portrayed himself as a devout Muslim and appears to have persuaded Gaddafi that as many as seventy percent of Uganda’s population was comprised of Muslims. However, the actual percentage of Muslims in Uganda was somewhere in the range of six percent, with the majority of them being located in the northwest of the country, which borders Sudan. In exchange for Gaddafi’s weapons, Amin brought his country into the Organisation of Islamic States and promised to place restrictions on the religious freedoms of Christians in Uganda. However, Gaddafi was convinced by Amin’s assertions, and he brought his country into the organisation. The Amin regime in Uganda was responsible for an increase in the level of violence that was unleashed in the year 1972. Those members of the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups who were opposed to Amin’s regime were the primary targets of violence. By the beginning of 1972, at least five thousand of these individuals had vanished. Among those who had vanished were soldiers, lawyers, students, religious leaders, and local political figures. It was not uncommon to discover dead bodies floating in the Nile River. There was, however, a general lack of awareness among the international media regarding what was taking place at this stage. One incident, on the other hand, garnered a lot of attention, and that was in January 1972 at Mutukula, which is located close to the Tanzanian border. However, this incident had only been extensively reported because it had spread into Tanzania itself. However, despite the fact that the western media and the foreign services of other countries were almost completely unaware of what was taking place in Uganda at the time, the amount of blood that was being shed was steadily growing. Figures for the death toll and the number of people who were forced to flee their homes during Amin’s dictatorship are notoriously difficult to determine with accuracy. However, by the summer of 1972, there were already tens of thousands of people who had either been killed or forced to flee into exile in Tanzania or elsewhere, while religious and political persecution was steadily increasing. It was only going to get worse over the course of the subsequent years.

Amin’s Ethnic Targeting and Asian Expulsion

This action, which took place in the autumn of 1972 and concerned the country’s large community of ethnic Asian people, was the first thing that brought Amin’s regime to the attention of the international media. The presence of Indian and South Asian people in East Africa dates back to at least the twelfth century. This settlement has been going on for a very long time. With the beginning of the first age of globalisation in the latter half of the nineteenth century, it experienced a dramatic increase. By the time the Second World War came to an end in 1945, there were well over half a million Asians living in East Africa, with a significant number of them coming from India in particular. In addition to the fact that there was a sizable Asian population in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the fact that this Asian population spread into East Africa was perceived to play an excessively large role in the economies of these countries was also a contributing factor. As of the middle of the twentieth century, Asians had established a dominant position in the commercial and industrial activity of the region. As a result, eighty to ninety percent of the commercial trade and industry in Uganda was in the hands of the Asian community here. As an illustration, in 1948, it was documented that out of 195 cotton ginneries or factories in Uganda, 183 were managed by individuals of Indian descent. In addition, this was reflected in the currency that was used throughout the nation. The values of the East Africa Shilling, a currency that was used by the British colonial government in the region between the years 1921 and 1969, were written in Gujarati, Arabic, and English on the banknotes of the currency. In the short time that followed his rise to power, Amin made the decision to make an effort to expel a significant portion of the Asian population from the country. He also made an effort to seize control of the commercial activity and industry in Uganda from the hands of the Asians and give it to the Ugandans of ethnic origin. As a consequence of this, on August 4, 1972, he made the announcement that individuals of Asian descent living in Uganda who did not possess full Ugandan citizenship would be required to leave the country within ninety days. The British government was now faced with a difficult situation because it had made a promise during the time of independence to grant citizenship to Asians who were living in the region if they expressed a desire to do so. In light of the fact that many of the tens of thousands of Asians who were not citizens and were living in Uganda were forced to leave the country and head to Britain, it was a logical choice for them to do so. In spite of this, significant portions of the political establishment in Britain were concerned about the possibility of tens of thousands of refugees coming from Uganda to establish themselves in the country. As a consequence of this, the government of Edward Heath in London made an effort to dissuade Amin from taking the action he had planned and to postpone the order to expel him. Panic began to set in as the deadline, which was set for the beginning of November 1972, drew closer. Eventually, at the eleventh hour, it became necessary for the United Nations to organise an emergency airlift in order to bring 27,000 Ugandan refugees of Asian descent to the United Kingdom. Before tens of thousands of people were forcibly removed from the country, Amin’s reasons for issuing the expulsion order were readily apparent to everyone. In most cases, those who were forcibly exiled were robbed of everything of value that they possessed while they were travelling to airports and borders.

download (39)



In the middle of the 1920s, in Uganda, the man who would later become known to history as Idi Amin was born under mysterious circumstances. There are some accounts that place Amin’s year of birth as late as 1928, including a statement made by Amin’s own son Hussein. However, it is highly likely that he was born in either 1923 or 1924. Amin was most likely born in Koboko, which is located in the Muslim-dominated north-western part of the country close to the border with what is now South Sudan. His place of birth is also a matter of debate; however, the suggestion that he was born in Kampala, the capital of the country, is probably not true. A similar lack of clarity exists regarding his father’s identity. According to some accounts, Andreas Nyabire was a member of the Kakwa people. In the early twentieth century, he changed his name to Amin Dada after converting to Islam from Roman Catholicism. He also changed his name to Amin Dada. Nevertheless, there are other sources that suggest that he was of Nubian ethnicity and that he may have been brought up in a Muslim household. In that case, his family most likely originated from Sudan and had been among the Sudanese communities that had been brought south by Emin Pasha, a governor of the Ottoman province of Equatoria who had travelled as far south as Uganda in the 1880s. Emin Pasha had been in charge of bringing Sudanese communities south during the late nineteenth century. Assa Aatte, Amin’s mother, is another person whose lineage is a matter of contention. Her ethnicity could have been Kakwa or Lugbara, both of which are distinct peoples who lived in the region that is now known as northern Uganda.

Fatherless Childhood: Abandonment and Upbringing

Based on the limited information that we have about Idi’s childhood, it appears that his father abandoned him and his mother when he was young, and that his mother was the sole carer for him. While the Second World War was raging to the north and east in Italian East Africa and the Maghreb, he was attending an Islamic school in Bombo in the early 1940s. This was during the time that the schools were located.

The history of Ugenda under colonel rule

Ethnic and Religious Diversity

In order to properly evaluate Amin’s life, it is necessary to first investigate the history of Uganda during the time of colonial rule. Uganda was a country that had been fabricated more from the imaginations of its colonial rulers than it was from a place that had an ethnic or religious coherence to it. This was true of many other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa as well. During the pre-colonial period, the region that the country currently encompasses was inhabited by a variety of peoples. The Bagandans were the most populous of these peoples, and they took control of a significant portion of the country in the southern part of what is now Uganda, including the region surrounding the capital city of Kampala. However, the region was also home to a significant number of Nilotic peoples, such as the Kakwa and the Lugbara, from the north and east. Additionally, there was a sizeable Sudanese population in the north-west of the region. Additionally, there are pockets of Kuliak people living in the regions that are located along the border between western Kenya and eastern Uganda during the present day. And to make matters even more complicated, the people of the country were also divided along religious lines. There was a sizable Muslim population in the north, which was where Islam had spread south from Egypt and Sudan, while other people in the country followed the religions that were indigenous to a particular region. In addition, a significant number of people had adopted religious beliefs such as Roman Catholicism or Protestantism. This was the patchwork of competing religions and ethnicities that resulted in the formation of modern-day Uganda.

British Colonial Influence in Uganda

When the British began to expand their territory in this region in the late nineteenth century, the Kingdom of Buganda ruled over a significant portion of the country. In 1894, the Uganda Protectorate was established as a part of the ambitions of certain British imperialists in Africa to obtain control of a continuous stretch of territory on the continent that ran from Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa. This stretch of territory was defined as the Uganda Protectorate. When the colonial regime in Baganda favoured elements among the Bagandans who had adopted Protestantism and used them as a proxy to govern the country and overrule the Muslim elements in the north, some of the internal divisions of the country were exacerbated. This occurred during the time that the country was under British rule. Colonial rule was exploitative, but it also brought benefits in the form of the beginnings of a modern infrastructure and economy. These benefits were most prominently seen in the production of cash crops such as sugar and cotton, and literacy rates also increased significantly during the first half of the twentieth century.

Idi Amin’s Early Military Career

The British colonial regime began training and arming native Ugandans in the early twentieth century, which was a process that accelerated prior to and during the First World War as a means of striking at Germany’s colonial possessions in East Africa. This was another significant development that occurred during this time period. The British colonial regime was responsible for the creation of a Ugandan military. Amin was largely responsible for the fabrication of later claims that he had fought on the Burma front against the Japanese and that he had joined the British army during the Second World War. Many of these claims were made by Amin himself. It was not long before he became a KAR. As a result of his athletic prowess and the work he did as a soldier, he was well-liked by the British officers and left a lasting impression on them. As a consequence of this, he was promoted within the ranks of the KAR as rapidly as was feasible for an individual of African descent at the time. In addition, by the late 1940s, he had been assigned to the neighbouring country of Kenya, where the level of opposition to British colonial rule was significantly higher than in his home country of Uganda. Consequently, Amin was present in this location in the year 1952, when the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, also referred to as the Mau Mau, initiated a rebellion against the rule of the British. This uprising would continue throughout the remainder of the 1950s. During this campaign in Kenya, Amin served with distinction; however, he would later attempt to minimise his participation in a war that was intended to defend the rule of the British imperial government. In 1952, he was promoted to the rank of corporal, and the following year, he was eventually promoted to the rank of sergeant. Amin continued to enjoy a certain degree of success throughout the decade of the 1950s. Amin’s commanding officer in the Kenyan Armed Forces, Iain Grahame, who later wrote a memoir about his relationship with Uganda and the future dictator, subsequently asserted that Amin was one of the best soldiers and mid-ranking officers he had ever commanded. Grahame was also a man who later wrote a memoir about his relationship with Uganda. In addition, an additional officer concurred with this evaluation. Additionally, it was during these years that he was dispatched to Europe for additional military training and found himself stationed in Stirling, which is located in Scotland, for a particular period of time. As we will see in the following section, this marked the beginning of Amin’s affinity for the country, which ultimately led to him toying with the idea that he might one day become King of Scotland in his later years. In 1959, after he had returned to Africa, he was given the title of effendi, which is equivalent to affande in Swahili. This was done in the KAR. The British armed forces in East Africa were able to promote him to the rank of class 2 warrant officer, which was the highest rank that an African could achieve within the British military structure. On the other hand, there were indications that point to the difficulties that were to come with Amin. Towards the end of 1961 and the beginning of 1962, the Kenyan Armed Forces (KAR) were requested to take action in response to widespread cattle raiding that was taking place on the border between Uganda and Kenya. While this was going on, Amin gave orders for his platoon to slaughter a large number of villagers. The colonial governor, Sir Frederick Crawford, did not want a scandal to emerge surrounding one of only two native Ugandans who were commissioned officers in the colonial army there. As a result, he was spared from being court-martialed for this civilian atrocity. This was due to the fact that Uganda was on the verge of gaining independence from Britain. The continent of Africa was undergoing a period of profound transformation at the same time that Amin was climbing the ranks of the Colonial British Army in East Africa. As a result of pressure from the United States of America, the Western Allies gave their consent to the Atlantic Charter in 1941. This charter stated that the colonies of the European powers would be granted a greater degree of independence in the aftermath of the Second World War. As a result of this, as well as the fact that they were unable to maintain their empires after the war, a significant number of African nations were able to achieve independence by the middle of the twentieth century. In 1945, the vast majority of the continent was either held by France in the north and north-west of the continent or by Britain in the south and east of the continent. Belgium had a large territory in the Congo, Portugal had two large blocks around Mozambique and Angola, and Italy had held the majority of the Horn of Africa and Libya. These three countries were located in the central regions of the continent.

Accelerating Independence Movements

However, by the 1950s, the pressure to grant independence to these extensive colonies had become too great to ignore. In the immediate aftermath of the war, there was little that occurred to grant independence to these colonies. As a direct consequence of this, Morocco and Tunisia achieved their independence from France in the year 1956, during which time the process accelerated significantly. Particularly in the year 1960, the countries of Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, Mali, Benin, Niger, the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Madagascar all achieved their independence from France. This occurred roughly at the same time that Belgium gave up control of its colonies and established the nations of the Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. 1957 was the year that Britain handed over control of Ghana, and 1961 was the year that it did the same with Nigeria.

Decolonisation in East Africa

When compared to certain regions in north-west Africa, the process of decolonization in East Africa took place a few years later. The manner in which it occurred in Uganda and the regions that bordered it was also very different from the manner in which it occurred in other countries that were further to the north-west. Many of these other countries had seen the emergence of political groups comprised of indigenous peoples who advocated for independence. These individuals had frequently received their education in London or Paris, and then returned to their homelands with the intention of achieving self-rule. At the end of the 1950s, Uganda had a few individuals who advocated for the country’s independence, but there was not much in the way of a cohesive political movement or opposition political parties. Therefore, there was not a mature political environment into which power could devolve when independence was finally declared on October 9, 1962, and the Republic of Uganda came into existence. This was the case because there was not a mature political environment. Despite this, three major political parties emerged almost immediately: the Democratic Party, which represented the Catholic population; the Uganda People’s Congress, which primarily represented the Nilotic people of the north of the country; and the Kabaka Yekka, which was a Bugandan nationalist party.

Obote’s Reign and Uganda’s Turbulent Politics

In the first elections held in Uganda after the country’s independence in 1962, the People’s Congress and Kabaka Yekka came together to ensure that the Democratic Party was not allowed to hold power. Milton Obote, the leader of the UPC, was elected as Uganda’s first Prime Minister. After that, Obote would come to dominate Ugandan politics during the 1960s; however, his tenure in office was plagued by many of the same issues that had plagued other African nations in the post-independence period. These issues included the challenge of uniting a country that was an artificial construct of the British and contained a large number of different ethnic peoples and religions within its borders.

Conflict Over Centralization vs. Decentralization

As a result, the middle of the 1960s witnessed a conflict between those who desired a decentralised federal state in which the Bagandans, the Nilotic people, and other groups would largely govern themselves in their respective provinces, and those who desired a powerful, centralised Ugandan state that would be governed from the capital city of Kampala. Obote’s suspension of the constitution and assumption of extensive powers, which amounted to little more than a dictatorship, marked the conclusion of this conflict, which had been going on since February 1966. However, this was not exactly an unusual occurrence in Africa after the continent gained its independence. Strongmen were seizing power across the continent in the 1960s, with vicious dictators such as Joseph Mobuto in the Congo, Jean Bokassa in the Central African Republic, Francisco Macias Nguema in Equatorial Guinea, and Aboubakar Sangoulé Lamizana in what was then the Republic of Upper Volta, but which we now know as Burkina Faso. All of these dictators were repressive in nature. In 1966, when Obote took power in Uganda, the country was falling further and further into this depressing trend.

images (2)

The complex legacy of Pablo Escobar: the rise and decline, Part 5

The manhunt

 The manhunt was stepped up, but no new terms were given. It was now clear that Search Bloc, the American Delta Force, and special operations units were working together on the streets of Medellin and Bogota, where units searched every home and tried to find Escobar’s closest friends and family. When they searched the drug lord’s safe house in December 1992, they were very close to catching him. Pablo had only left it a few hours before. But things were getting better in other ways, too. Many of Escobar’s supporters and helpers started to turn their backs on a person they thought would eventually be caught, and staying loyal cost more and more. When Pablo’s brother-in-law was killed by Los Pepes, it was a clear sign that things were changing. Escobar was able to stay away from the police for almost a year and a half after his flight from La Catedral. The last thing that caught him was a surveillance operation that was able to follow his cell phone calls in the early winter of 1993. Because of this, Search Bloc and US agents found Escobar hiding out in another safe house in Los Olivos, a middle-class area of Medellin. They moved on December 2, 1993. Eight people broke down the door. Escobar and his bodyguard that day, Alvaro de Jesus Agudelo, also known as “El Limon,” ran out onto the roof of the building and tried to escape across the roofs of the houses next door. For sure, it’s not clear what came next. People started shooting at each other, and soon Pablo was lying dead on the roof, with bullets going through his leg, torso, and ear. Even though the bullet that went through his ear killed him, it is thought that Escobar fired the bullet himself because he had already decided some time ago that he would kill himself before being extradited to the United States. Roberto, Pablo’s brother and close friend, later said Pablo had always said he would shoot himself in the ear if he was pushed into a situation like this. No matter what the truth was, it didn’t change what happened. His death in Medellin on December 2, 1993, was just one day after his 44th birthday and about seventeen years after the start of the Medellin Cartel. He was known as “El Patron,” or “the Boss.” Escobar had made a strong image for himself as Robin Hood, even though he had caused a lot of violence. More than 25,000 people came to his funeral. As soon as Escobar died, the Cali Cartel quickly rose to become Colombia’s largest producer and trafficker of cocaine. The Norte del Valle Cartel, or North Valley Cartel, was a new group that came into being in Pablo’s last years in the Valle del Cauca region and gave it a lot of competition. In the 1990s, it became harder and harder for drugs to get from the Caribbean to Florida and the East Coast, so both groups looked for ways to get their drugs to Mexico. Mexico then became the new way to get into the United States. In the mid-1990s, the Cali Cartel was mostly broken up and pieces were scattered all over the place.

North coast cartel

New crime groups sprung up, like the North Coast Cartel, which was based in the northern city of Baranquilla and focused on supplying networks in eastern Europe while also bringing some of Pablo’s older supply lines up to the cities on the East Coast of the United States. All of these other groups have come and gone, taking their place with new ones that are determined to use more and more violent methods to get established. Today, Colombia is slowly getting back on its feet after the drug cartels and political conflicts that tore the country apart in the second half of the 20th century and made it possible for people like Escobar to do well. The Colombian government and the FARC rebels signed a historic ceasefire agreement in 2016. This meant that the country might no longer have to deal with paramilitary violence that had been going on for 50 years. Also, Medellin has done very well since Escobar died.

 Medellin’s Story of Redemption: Escobar’s Dark History and the City’s Restoration

After the Medellin Cartel fell apart in the mid-1990s, crime rates in the city dropped quickly. Since then, the city has gotten a lot of investment and built up a lot of transportation infrastructure, which has made it a centre of business and industry in Colombia once again in the early 2000s. Thirty years ago, when Escobar was in charge, the city was known as the murder capital of the world. Now, it is known around the world for creating an environmentally friendly and innovative public transportation system. There are still other signs of Escobar’s influence. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, La Catedral was left empty for a long time. But in 2007, a group of Benedictine monks took it over and turned it into a religious site with a library and other features. The hippos, on the other hand, have grown in number and are still roaming around the Hacienda Napoles grounds. It was hard to figure out who Pablo Escobar was. His childhood was spent in the dirty city of Medellin, which grew from a small town to a city with more than a million people in the fifty years from the 1920s to the 1970s. He also became a drug dealer at a time when Colombia was going through a lot of political violence, which was really a civil war, and the country was also becoming the world’s centre for cocaine production. So, it’s likely that someone else would have become famous in the Colombian drug trade if Escobar hadn’t become the leader of the Medellin Cartel. This could have happened in Medellin, Cali, or somewhere else. One could also say that he did a lot to help the poor and the powerless, especially in his home town during a time when Colombia was in terrible poverty and many people felt like the government in Bogota had abandoned them. Pablo helped the poor by giving them money, making jobs, and improving Medellin’s infrastructure. People could even visit his zoo at Hacienda Napoles for free, and he made people feel better by giving so much money to the Atletico Nacional football team that they won the Copa Libertadores in 1989. This was the image of himself that Escobar tried to build up, like Robin Hood. The truth is much worse, though. Escobar killed a lot of people and brought violence and death to a level that had never been seen before in Colombia and Medellin in particular. There were a lot of problems in the country that weren’t his fault, but from the mid-1980s on, he became more determined to fight the Colombian government and rivals like the Cali Cartel. This is what made the country so dangerous that over 25,000 people were killed every year, with almost a third of those deaths happening in Medellin alone. Escobar may have been willing to give away a lot of his money, since the Cartel couldn’t have used most of it by the mid- to late-1980s. But he was also ready to kill dozens or even hundreds of innocent people at a time to get rid of his enemies, like he did with Avianca Flight 203 and the Department of Security bombings in November and December 1989. Once his bad influence was taken away in the mid-1990s, Medellin and Colombia slowly began to make progress towards becoming better places to live. So, even though Escobar might have said he was just “a good man who sells flowers,” the truth was very different.  

images (2)

The complex legacy of Pablo Escobar: the rise and decline, Part 4

M-19 Teamwork: Escobar’s Tragic Catalyst in Colombian History

When Pablo finally got back to Colombia at the end of 1984, he was set on making his fight with the government worse. He then got in touch with the 19th of April Movement, or M-19. M-19 is a Colombian guerrilla group that formed in the 1970s and is now the second largest paramilitary group in Colombia, after the FARC. With Pablo’s support and encouragement, as well as money and help with logistics, M-19 started getting ready to attack the Colombian government directly in response to the US extradition treaty going into effect. The group saw this as a clear violation of Colombia’s national sovereignty. So, on November 6, 1985, about thirty M-19 guerrilla fighters broke into the Palace of Justice in Bogota, which was the home of the Colombian Supreme Court. They held over 300 people hostage, including most of the judges on the Supreme Court. Following this, calls were made for ending the extradition treaty and for President Betancur to step down and be charged. At the same time, the Colombian army had surrounded the Palace and was getting ready to storm it if they had to. Pablo had started a full-on military conflict in the middle of the capital of Colombia. No matter what, the M-19 fighters’ demands at the Palace of Justice could not be met. But in the morning of November 7, the day after the attack, there seemed to be room for negotiation. Early that morning, the paramilitary fighters inside agreed to free a well-known hostage, a state councillor named Reynaldo Arciniegas. As the hours went by, though, things got worse. Then, just after lunch, at 2 p.m., General Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales, who was in charge of the army divisions outside, gave the order to storm the building. During the next few hours, almost 100 people were killed inside the Palace. This included most of the M-19 fighters and half of the 22 justices of the Colombian Supreme Court. But Pablo got something good out of the situation that he didn’t expect. A lot of paperwork and proof about Colombia’s main drug traffickers was destroyed when the palace was attacked. Originally, it was thought that the M-19 fighters inside had burned these on purpose to help Escobar get away from the police, but it now looks more likely that they were destroyed by fire caused by the explosives used by the army to break into the building. The bloodbath turned out to be surprisingly good for the drug lord. At the same time, Betancur’s government was getting a lot of flak for how it handled the situation, which killed dozens of people including half of Colombia’s top judges.

Political Transformation in Colombia: Escobar’s Clash with Shifting Administrations

 Politics in Colombia started to change after the attack on the Palace of Justice. These changes would have effects on Escobar, his family, the Medellin Cartel, and all drug traffickers in Colombia. Betancur was badly hurt by how he handled the siege, and in August 1986, Virgilio Barco easily beat Betancur to become Colombia’s 27th President. Another difference is that the Barco government was even tougher on Escobar and the cartels than the Betancur government. In January 1987, a few months after taking office, police stopped a group of Escobar’s cars and jeeps on their way from Hacienda Napoles to a safe house in Medellin. This was a sign of things to come. Pablo wasn’t caught because he was travelling without his wife and kids, but Maria and the kids, Juan and Manuela, were arrested and put in a cell for several hours until Pablo’s lawyers came to free them. It showed that the new government was ready to go after Escobar in any way possible, and it showed that the conflict between the drug lord and the Colombian government was getting worse. Before and after the end of the 1980s, Escobar had other enemies besides the Colombian government. In the late 1970s, while Pablo was building up the Medellin Cartel, a separate cartel was forming in Cali, which is in the southwest of Colombia. It was led by the Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, as well as José Londono and Hélmer “Pacho” Herrera. It wasn’t long ago that the two drug cartels worked together, often because they both wanted to avoid getting caught by the law in Colombia and launder their money abroad. They also made deals to split up some of the cocaine market in the US. But things got worse in the middle of the 1980s, in part because Rodriguez Gacha, a top member of the Medellin Cartel, tried to force his way into the New York City market, which Medellin had usually given to Cali. By the end of 1987, Medellin and Cali were officially at war, with a lot of killings and bombings. In 1988, one of these people was even able to set off a car bomb outside of Escobar’s house. All of these things added to Escobar’s many problems in the late 1980s, and the war with the Cali Cartel would last the rest of his life, albeit with varying levels of intensity. Even though they were at war with Cali and the government was still trying to arrest or extradite him, the Medellin Cartel was at its richest and most powerful in the mid- to late-1980s. This was because the US market for cocaine was growing all the time. At this point, the Cartel was making about $70 million a day, or $25 billion a year, which is more than $70 billion today when you account for inflation. This was possible because they had a trafficking network that was bringing in about 12 tonnes of cocaine every day. Later, Pablo’s brother Roberto, who was in charge of the Cartel’s finances and logistics, said that the group spent $1,000 a week on rubber bands to separate the money they got into stacks. Because there was so much money to be made, the Cartel may have lost up to 10% of its money before it could be spent. Around 80% of the world’s cocaine trade was controlled by the Cartel at this time. Pablo was thought to be one of the world’s richest billionaires, though estimates of how much money he actually had vary a lot. On top of that, Pablo kept using this money to improve his reputation in Colombia. Escobar was especially aware of how useful it could be to use sports to spread his message. Starting in the early 1980s, he started giving a lot of money to Atletico Nacional, Medellin’s football team. The club went from being in the middle of the pack in the Colombian national league to a title contender in just a few short years. Some of Colombia’s best football players played here in the 1980s, when foreign players were brought in on contracts that paid well. In 1988, the club came in second place in the championship, which meant they could play in the Copa Libertadores, the South American football championship in 1989. Nacional beat Club Olimpia of Paraguay in a penalty shootout to win the Copa and become the first team from Colombia to do so. For Pablo, putting money into the club paid off in more than one way. He got a lot of support in Medellin and throughout Colombia because of it, but it also helped him hide large amounts of cash through betting rings. As the football authorities in Colombia started to crack down on the Cartel’s power in the sport, this business route was eventually shut down as well. The Copa Libertadores did not allow Colombian teams to play for a while in the early 1990s. Even though the Cartel’s wealth and Atletico Nacional’s athletic success were subject to change, Escobar’s drug trafficking operations were having a very bad effect on Medellin. Between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, Medellin was statistically the most dangerous city in the world to live in, based on the number of violent incidents and murders. For example, there were 7,237 murders in the city in 1991—an average of 18 murders per day, or 266 murders for every 100,000 people in the city. By this time, the population had grown again a lot, to more than 1.5 million. Overall, Colombia had become the most dangerous country in the world because of the government’s fights with the FARC and other guerrilla groups, as well as the wars and other conflicts between the different drug cartels. In 1991, more than 25,000 people were killed in violent ways here. By 1992, that number had risen to over 27,000. It meant that 70 people were killed violently every day, or about one person every twenty minutes. Most standard measurements of this kind say that Colombia was basically a failed state by the late 1980s and early 1990s. Escobar and the Medellin Cartel’s activities played a big role in this happening. Not only was all this violence caused by Escobar’s drug trafficking and Colombia’s larger political problems, but Pablo was also capable of killing a lot of people without any reason. Some of the most well-known events happened in the early winter of 1989. Colombian domestic flight Avianca Flight 203, which went from Bogota to Cali on November 27, exploded five minutes after taking off from the country’s capital. All 107 people on board and three people on the ground were killed. The bombing was planned by Pablo before the 1990 presidential election as an attempt to kill César Gaviria Trujilo, who was running for office and was known to be very tough on drug cartels if elected. Then, two weeks later, a truck bomb went off in front of the Bogota building for the Administrative Department of Security. Escobar’s target this time was General Miguel Alfredo Marquez, who was in charge of the Department. The truck was full of 500,000 pounds of dynamite, and the explosion was so big that it killed 57 people and hurt over 2,000 more in the building and nearby. So, even though Escobar tried to show himself as a kind of Colombian Robin Hood, he was actually in charge of killing a lot of people without any reason in Colombia in the late 1980s. Escobar’s plans to kill César Gaviria Trujilo failed in November 1989 because the candidates for president of Colombia did not get on Avianca Flight 203. It became clear that Trujilo was a candidate after Luis Carlos Galan was killed. Galan had been Escobar’s enemy for a long time, and Escobar chose to run for president against Galan in 1990. It was August 1989 and he was way ahead in the national polls. But on August 18, he was shot and killed in Soacha, which is on the outskirts of Bogota. And there is no doubt that Escobar gave the order to kill him. Galan’s death left a void that Trujilo filled, and there was now no doubt that Pablo had to be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by the new Colombian government when Trujilo won the election to become president in 1990. However, just a few months later, in 1991, Colombia’s new constitution came out, and it said that the country would not honour the extradition treaty with the US. This created a new problem. Many people at the time and most analysts since then have come to the same conclusion: a lot of people with ties to the cartels, especially Escobar, paid off dozens of members of the National Assembly to make sure that the extradition treaty would not be added to the new constitution. Now that Pablo didn’t have to worry about being sent back to the United States for trial, and things were getting harder for him because he was at war with both the Cali Cartel and the Colombian government, he decided to take a very different action. He started talking with some people in Trujilo’s government about how he could offer to serve a short jail sentence in exchange for ending his fight with the government and becoming mostly free again at the end of the process. Everything about this deal could work out well for everyone. According to Escobar, it would mean a pretty clean slate inside of Colombia. For the Colombian government, it meant that the constant attacks on politicians and judges that Escobar had been in charge of for almost a decade might finally stop. The deal would not be the most honourable, but the country had so many problems in the early 1990s, including a civil war in the countryside, that it might have been the only way to temporarily solve one issue. As a result, Pablo Escobar, who was in charge of the Medellin Cartel, turned himself in to Colombian police in 1991. There was one catch. He asked to be given permission to build his own jail. The Cathedral, or La Catedral, wasn’t what most people think of when they think of a prison. In many places, prisons are meant to keep prisoners away from their old lives. In this case, Escobar was able to negotiate the terms of his surrender so that he could build his own prison. Because of this, the Cathedral was built on top of a hill with a view of Medellin so that Pablo’s friends and family could easily visit him. The Colombian drug lord didn’t have to do much to get set up. For example, the prison had a football pitch, a Jacuzzi and even its own bar with a waterfall. Escobar did everything he could to see what was going on in the city below. He even set up his own private phone line and a telescope. In a way, Escobar was under a kind of voluntary house arrest in this mansion that was built just for him. Because of this, the “prison” was sometimes called “Hotel Escobar,” which shows how easy Pablo’s prison sentence really was. In addition, it was built with defence in mind. The Cathedral wasn’t really a prison because it was built on top of a hill that was often foggy. Instead, it was more of a fortress to keep people from outside trying to get to Escobar. Pablo was given a sentence that said he could spend no more than five years in prison at La Catedral. In exchange, the Colombian government agreed not to try to extradite him to the US. The government would be able to save face by saying that Escobar had finally been punished in some way, while Escobar would be able to keep watching over his drug trafficking activities from the hill that looks out over Medellin. The trick did not work for very long, though. By early 1992, there were stories in the Colombian media saying that Pablo was still running the Medellin Cartel from La Catedral. The stories also talked about how nice it was for him to live there. Under a lot of pressure, the Colombian government chose in July 1992 to try to move Escobar to a more normal Colombian jail. But Pablo at the hilltop prison easily learned about this ahead of time, and Escobar was able to leave La Catedral without any problems because he didn’t have to follow many rules. Escobar was able to easily get out of prison by using an escape route he set up when his own prison was being built. A fake wall he had built over an escape tunnel was taken down. The last exciting event in Pablo’s life began with his flight from La Catedral. He got away from going to a prison with harsher rules, but now Trujilo’s government was strongly against him. They were ready to call on the US and let US secret services work freely in Colombia to try to catch, detain, or kill Escobar. Around the beginning of the 1990s, SEAL Team Six, a part of the US Joint Special Operations Command, was working in Colombia to capture Escobar and, if possible, bring him back to the US, where he would be sentenced to life in a maximum security prison. These groups were joined and helped by Search Bloc, a special operations unit of the National Police of Colombia that was set up by the Barco administration in 1986 and got more resources in the early 1990s as the search for Escobar grew. Along with these, Escobar’s other enemies, like the Cali Cartel and a vigilante group called Los Pepes, joined the fight. Los Pepes was supposed to represent people who had lost loved ones because of Escobar’s violence and bombings since the 1980s. After Escobar ran away from La Catedral, US and Colombian special forces worked together with Los Pepes. As soon as Escobar got out of jail in July 1992, the manhunt began. As soon as Pablo got to a safe house, he made things worse by giving an interview to a local radio station. He was making fun of the government and his opponents by explaining in detail how he had gotten away, but there was also a bit of caution in this. During the interview, Escobar made it clear that he was ready to go back to jail as long as certain conditions were met. These conditions included letting him serve the rest of his agreed-upon sentence at La Catedral. But the government had enough.

download (38)

The complex legacy of Pablo Escobar: the rise and decline, Part 3

How did Escobar grow to the position of drug ruler?

Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pablo’s business continued to grow without any problems. He was pretty unknown at this point, compared to when he became famous as the King of Cocaine or El Patron, also known as “the Boss.” He was in charge of the Medellin Cartel, which continued to grow quickly and bring more and more cocaine into the United States. They also smuggled large amounts into other countries, like Spain, which was like Florida for the American drug market: it let drugs into the country. The complicated ways the drugs were moved got even more complicated. For example, boats pulled small submarines full of powder. Soon, Escobar’s network was bringing several tonnes of cocaine into the United States and Europe illegally every week. This made the gang as much as $60 million a day, or $20 billion a year. By the early 1980s, the Cartel was buying coca paste from plantations in neighbouring countries like Peru and Bolivia. This meant that their operations had grown beyond Colombia. South America now has a whole industry based on the operation. It was getting so much money for the Cartel that it couldn’t spend it, and even laundering and hiding it was becoming very hard to do. A lot of it was cleaned through Panama. One common way was to buy gold and then melt it down into forms that other countries could use as clean money. Even so, these methods had their flaws. So, instead of spending the money, huge amounts of it were hidden in homes all over the country, where no one would ever guess they were there. Even stranger, the Cartel bought a mansion with a Jacuzzi that could be rolled up and down. Some tens of millions of dollars were hidden in a secret compartment under this. The house was then given to a poor Colombian family without telling them about the compartment. The only catch was that the family had to leave the house every so often when money was added to or taken out of the compartment. Some of this money is still being found today, which is not a surprise. In 2020, Pablo’s nephew Nicolás Escobar found $18 million hidden in the wall of one of Pablo’s old homes. It’s not the first time that huge amounts of money have been found by accident in some of Escobar and the Cartel’s old homes. The risk of getting caught kept going up as the profits kept going up. Extradition was one of the things Escobar and other members of the Cartel feared the most.

Escobar’s Reign of Terror: Battling Extradition and Terrorist Tactics

In September 1979, the government of Colombia and the government of US President Jimmy Carter signed an extradition treaty. This meant that drug smugglers from Colombia who brought large amounts of cocaine into the US could be sent to the US to be tried for their crimes there. When this treaty went into effect in March 1982, it put Escobar in great danger. If he were caught and sentenced in Colombia, the level of corruption in the country would either keep him from being found guilty or give him a very light sentence in prison. But if he were sent back to the US and found guilty there, he would almost certainly spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison. In response to this threat, Escobar and some of his friends started a terrorist campaign in the early to mid-1980s that included kidnapping, killing, and bombing people in Colombian politics, law enforcement, and the courts to try to get them to back out of the extradition treaty. It didn’t work, though, and drug traffickers like Escobar lived in constant fear of being extradited in Colombia throughout the 1980s.

The Misleading Picture of a Colombian Hero

To avoid the risk of being extradited, Pablo tried to get support from people all over Colombia. A big part of Escobar’s mystery came from the idea that he was a Colombian Robin Hood. In the beginning, many people thought that Pablo and the Cartel’s actions didn’t really hurt regular Colombians. Any harm that their actions caused happened a long way away in the United States, which many Colombians saw as an imperial power that was attacking Latin America. To make his reputation even worse, Pablo gave away a lot of the huge amounts of money that were coming into the Cartel’s accounts every week. In some cases, he gave this to the people of Medellin as free cash. He also spent a lot of money on building projects in Medellin and across the country. He built football stadiums, parks and other public facilities. At one point, he even let people into the zoo at Hacienda Napoles for free. Improving the roads around Medellin was one of the most important investments. The city had grown very quickly in the 20th century and was now plagued by traffic jams. Pablo’s money helped fix some of these problems. Finally, Escobar would dress up as Santa Claus at Christmas and give expensive gifts to kids in poor areas. In this way, he bought the love of many people in Medellin and throughout Colombia. Even though people tried to make Pablo seem less bad, by the early 1980s he was known as the leader of the notorious Medellin Cartel and had a target on his back. So he came up with a new way to answer. He tried to get even more attention.

A Cascading Story of Political Ascendancy: Escobar, Bloodshed, and the Colombian Congress

 He decided to run for office in Colombian politics in 1982 and was chosen by the Colombian Liberal Party. Pablo focused his campaigning on the extradition treaty between Colombia and the US, which was just going into effect. He said that the Colombian president, Julio Cesar Turbay, was giving up some of Colombia’s sovereignty by letting the US extradite Colombian citizens to its own country to be tried there. But Pablo also had people who didn’t like him during the campaign, and some of them were killed with bullets. During a debate in Medellin, a strong opponent said that Escobar was getting involved in politics for his own gain. Soon after, the man was arrested by elements of the Medellin police force that worked for the Cartel. After that, he was given to Escobar’s goons. A few days later, he was found dead on the streets of Medellin, his body full of bullet holes. So, Escobar was able to get elected to the Colombian Chamber of Representatives in March 1982 by using threats and his support for the people.

Escobar’s Political Strategy: Revealing the Conflict with Colombia’s Established Authorities

Pablo’s decision to get involved in Colombian politics was a controversial move. It helped hide his illegal activities and gave him a chance to question the extradition treaty from within parliament, but it also brought him a lot of attention that he didn’t need. What’s more, it made the conservative political establishment in Colombia start working to get rid of him. He used to be one of many drug dealers in the country, though he was the most successful. Now he was trying to bring down the country’s political establishment on purpose. It was especially important for Colombia’s new Conservative president, Belisario Betancur, to get rid of Escobar from politics. In order to do that, Betancur started a campaign against Pablo in the summer of 1983. One thing he did was make Rodrigo Lara Bonilla the minister of justice so that he could do a lot more to go after drug traffickers in Colombia, especially Pablo. At the same time, there was a media campaign against Escobar, and the newspaper El Espectador published a long article analysing Pablo’s arrest in 1976. This gave a lot of information about what had happened, how Escobar tried to hide the fact that he was arrested, and how he tried to avoid going to jail. Pablo was now being watched by the media in a way that he didn’t want because he was the face of illegal drug trafficking in Colombia. His first reaction to all the unwanted attention was the same as always. He thought about killing the editor of El Espectador and told people in the Cartel to try to buy as many copies of the newspaper as they could to cut down on its circulation. But within days, more stories came out that went beyond what was in El Espectador and showed how big the problem really was.  But this would soon get bigger. In 1978, Carlos Lehder started buying land on Norman’s Cay, a Bahamian island, with the goal of turning it into a hub for cocaine trafficking between Colombia and the United States. Over the next few months, he used violence to scare local landowners into selling their land, even killing some of the residents. Lehder, who was unstable and paranoid, also pushed Jung out of the operation at this point. So, in just a few months, he had pretty much converted the island.

The Romantic Involvement with Virginia Vallejo

Some of these focused on his personal life and told how Pablo had started seeing a famous Colombian TV host named Virginia Vallejo. In recent months, Vallejo was the first reporter to have a one-on-one interview with Escobar. From that point on, their relationship grew. The trafficker had problems at home and in public because his wife Maria temporarily kicked him out of the family home and threatened to divorce him. This was fixed after a lot of pleading, but Pablo’s affair with Vallejo went on and off for another few years and didn’t end until 1987.

Escobar’s Resignation, Political Assassination, and the Increasing Conflict with the Colombian Government

Pablo was getting too much attention, so in late 1983, Gustavo Zuluaga, the superior judge of Medellin, decided to look into Pablo’s arrest in 1976 all over again. At the same time, Escobar’s American visa was revoked by the US embassy in Bogota, and Pablo’s special immunity as a member of the parliament was voted down by the Colombian Congress. Because of this, he decided to leave politics behind, knowing that his plan to get more protection from prosecution by getting involved in politics had backfired. And on January 20, 1984, he sent a letter giving up his seat in the Colombian Chamber of Representatives. In it, he said, “I will continue to fight against oligarchies and injustices, as well as against backroom dealings that show no regard for the people’s needs and especially against demagogues and dirty politicians who don’t care about the people’s suffering but are always on the lookout for ways to split up official power.” Three months after Pablo quit the Colombian parliament, on 30 April 1984, a Yamaha motorbike pulled up next to Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, who was in his car stuck in traffic in Bogota. Lara Bonilla was the justice minister and his job was to bring Escobar and Colombia’s other major drug traffickers to justice. Two men were on it. One was driving, but Ivan Dario Guisado, who was sitting in the back seat, quickly pulled out an Uzi submachine gun and started shooting at Bonilla’s car. The justice minister was shot several times and died right away. Soon after, Guisado was killed when Bonilla’s bodyguards returned fire. The driver, Byron Velasquez, had done what Escobar told him to do, which was like Pablo declaring war on the Colombian government. It was seen that way by the authorities, who then moved to fully carry out the treaty with the US on extradition. While this was going on, Pablo temporarily left Colombia with his family and lived in Panama, which is to the north. They then spent a short time in Nicaragua, which was in the middle of a full-blown civil war.