John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, working as one of Pablo Escobar’s top hit men, killed at least 300 people and was implicated in the deaths of 3,000 more.
Velásquez, aka Popeye, was a key functionary in Escobar’s Medellin cartel. And, as he claimed in an interview earlier this month, his duties extended to meeting with Latin American luminaries and national leaders on behalf of the cartel.
Speaking with Puerto Rico’s Wapa TV, Popeye said that he hand-delivered letters from Escobar to Colombian literary icon Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who then passed the letters on to Fidel and Raul Castro.
“I am going to give you a key bit of information: The link between everyone [Escobar, Cuba and the US] is called Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Laureate,” Popeye said, according to Colombia Reports.
“Raul Castro received cocaine on behalf of Pablo Escobar and Fidel was aware,” Popeye said in an interview with the Argentine outlet Todo Noticias. He added that Raul Castro was responsible for cocaine’s arrival in Miami.
“I was in Mexico carrying a letter to the Nobel Laureate for Raul and Fidel Castro; a manuscript of Escobar’s,” Popeye said.
“When I got off the plane the Mexican police were waiting for me and took me to where ‘Gabo’ was signing autographs,” he continued, according to Colombia Reports. “He called me aside and said, ‘Popeye, where is the letter?’ and I gave it to him.”
In the message, Popeye told Todo Noticias, “Pablo Escobar was asking Fidel for a Russian submarine to carry the drug from Mexico to Havana, and with this submarine, to Miami.”
“That (Fidel) is not a world leader, he is a dictator and a bandit,” Popeye said, according to Clarín. “I was in Key West, I saw the drug.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Colombian novelist and journalist, is a revered figure in Latin America, known best for magical realism, the literary style used in his well-known 1967 work, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”
Popeye, 52, has become something of a public figure since his release, calling himself “the historical memory of the Medellín Cartel.”
In the interview, he described on camera how he kidnapped and killed Colombian functionaries as ordered by Escobar.
He is also reportedly responsible for the 1989 bombing of Avianca Flight 203 in Colombia, which killed 107 people, and for the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Galán, which plunged the country into a bloody period of narco violence.
Popeye stressed that he was not formally linking the world-famous Garcia Marquez to the Medellin network, only that the novelist “served as a link by delivering letters.”
“I never said that he read the letters and that he was a trafficker,” Popeye said, according to Colombia Reports.
“The traffickers were Raul and Fidel Castro.”
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