Colombia protests restaurant in Singapore named after drug kingpin Pablo Escobar

Colombia protests restaurant in Singapore named after drug kingpin Pablo Escobar

Drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was immortalised in the hit Netflix series Narcos. (Photo: AFP/Elizabeth Law) 

SINGAPORE: Colombia has lodged an angry complaint with Singapore over a restaurant in the city-state named after drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

In a three-page letter to Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday (Feb 2), the Colombian embassy expressed "serious concern", saying the eatery was paying tribute to the "worst criminal in the history of Colombia".

"The Embassy of the Republic of Colombia wants to share some information to refresh the horror that this criminal caused in Colombia ... not to mention the drug addiction he promoted and the war he declared," the letter said.

"If the idea of the owner was to make his or her business look profitable and trendy, it is inducing ... confusion, because Colombia is not what 'Narcos-Netflix' portrays anymore."

It said Colombia cannot "tolerate any more tributes to that criminal."

When AFP visited the restaurant in China Square Central along Cross Street on Tuesday evening, patrons occupied about a dozen tables having post-work drinks, seemingly unaware of the controversy.

Several bouquets stood on stands by the door next to a decal of Escobar's face, congratulating the eatery on its recent opening.

Owner Stan Sri Ganesh told AFP that he decided on the name "simply because it had the word 'bar' in it".

Several users have posted abusive comments and sent threatening messages to the gastropub's Facebook page, he said.

"It was meant to be a pun ... we never expected the abuse."

Responding to critics on its Facebook page, the restaurant apologised and said that it plans to change its logo.

"We’re aware of the recent controversy concerning our branding and would like to take this opportunity to apologise to any community or individual who was offended by it," it wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "We would like to reiterate that it was never our intention to glorify or condone the actions of Pablo Escobar.

"Anyway, we heard you and we’re working on revamping our logo."

More than two decades after police shot Escobar dead in his stronghold of Medellin, the cocaine cartel leader was immortalised in the hit Netflix series "Narcos".

Escobar is still deeply popular in Medellin, where he is regarded as a saint and anti-hero souvenirs with his face on them do brisk business.

Colombia has recently come out of a decades-long civil conflict fuelled by drug trafficking that claimed thousands of lives.

The United Nations ranks Colombia as the world's biggest producer of coca, the raw material for the drug.

Source: AFP/ad/nc