While the public was celebrating a world without El Patrón, Pablo Escobar's wife and widow Maria Victoria Henao was figuring out exactly what that meant for her family's safety.
When Maria Victoria Henao was just 15 years old, she married her self-proclaimed soulmate in March 1976.
Despite the fact that he was 11 years her senior, Henao fell in love with the man “because of his naughty smile [and] the way he looked at [her].”
“[He] was affectionate and sweet,” she recalled in her later years. “A great lover. I fell in love with his desire to help people and his compassion for their hardship. We [would] drive to places where he dreamed of building schools for the poor. From [the] beginning, he was always a gentleman.”
When describing her late husband, Maria Henao uses words that wouldn’t usually come to mind. The picture she paints is of a chivalrous suitor, a devoted family man, and a compassionate human being.
It’s not exactly the image that comes to mind when picturing the Pablo Escobar, the king of cocaine, the leader of the Medellin Cartel, and the most feared drug kingpin of his time. And yet, for those who knew them, their relationship was as sweet as she described.
After all, there had to be something that kept Maria Victoria Henao with Escobar through the affairs, the murders, and the running.
But what of the aftermath?
While the world was openly celebrating the death of Pablo Escobar, there was a family — a wife, a son, and a daughter — quietly and fearfully mourning a loss. As Colombian police stormed Medellin and rounded up the cartel after the fall of their king, Maria Victoria Henao and her two children packed up their lives and fled.
The three attempted to gain asylum in Germany and Mozambique but were denied their request. Finally, they managed to settle in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they quietly began to live a relatively normal life. The trio changed their names, with the children adopting the last name “Marroquin” and Maria Victoria Henao choosing either “Victoria Henao Vallejos” or “Maria Isabel Santos Caballero.”
In 1999, Maria Victoria Henao and Juan Pablo, her son, were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and imprisoned in Argentina for several months. Upon her release, Henao told the press that she’d been arrested because of who she was, not what she’d allegedly done.
“I am a prisoner in Argentina for being Colombian,” she said. “They want to try the ghost of Pablo Escobar because they want to prove that Argentina is combatting drug trafficking.”
Since her arrest, Maria Victoria Henao has remained out of the spotlight, preferring solitude in Argentina to the life she had in Colombia.
Enjoy this look at Pablo Escobar’s wife, Maria Victoria Henao? Then read about Manuela Escobar and the life Pablo Escobar’s daughter is currently living. Then, check out these absolutely ridiculous Pablo Escobar facts.