Nottingham restaurant Escobar accused of ‘glamourising drug lords’

A South American-themed restaurant called Escobar has been accused by an MP of “glamourising drug lords and terrorism” by featuring a mural of the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.

Nadia Whittome, the Labour MP for Nottingham East, said she had been contacted by residents who were distressed about the newly opened bar, including one constituent whose relatives were allegedly killed by the late narcoterrorist.

The bar in Nottingham city centre features numerous references to Escobar, including an apparent mural and an image of his name over the Colombian coat of arms, and food options such as “Pablo’s platter for two”.

The bar’s owners have claimed it is South American-themed and disputed a mural’s resemblance to Escobar, but senior managers previously told local media that the drug baron helped inspire the bar’s design.

In a letter to Escobar’s owners, Whittome said she had been contacted by residents who were concerned the bar “could be seen to be glamourising drug lords and terrorism”.

She urged the owners to rethink its branding and said: “As you are aware, Pablo Escobar is known for affecting hundreds of thousands of lives in Colombia, through his drug tracking, bribery, violence and murder. A member of the community in Nottingham has explained to me in detail how their family members were killed by Pablo Escobar and that his actions still haunt the family’s life to this day.

“In light of this information, I am concerned that a number of people in Nottingham continue to feel uncomfortable knowing that a mural of Pablo Escobar is present within the establishment.”

The Guardian has contacted the restaurant for comment.

Escobar is thought to have been responsible for about 4,000 deaths during his ruthless domination of the drugs trade. At the height of his power, his Medellín cartel controlled 80% of the cocaine trade to the US and earned an estimated $420m (£300m) a week.

The bar’s owners have responded to growing criticism by saying they do not have the money to remove the mural and disputing its resemblance to the drug lord, who died in December 1993 during a shootout with Colombian forces.

However, the manager, Matt Clarke, told the Nottingham Post in December that the mural was of Pablo Escobar and that it “proved the inspiration for the restaurant’s name”.

He said: “We had an artist come and we said it’s South American themed so do whatever you want to do. So they did a big Pablo Escobar mural and we thought: Escobar – that’s a great name for a bar.”

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