Virginia Vallejo-Garcia is a Colombian-born author, media personality and political asylee in the United States of America since June 3rd 2010. A journalist and award-winning anchor woman from 1972, she lost her career in television after her five-year (1983-1987) romantic relationship with Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellin cartel, but went on to become the first Colombian multilevel marketing diamond in the 90s and a bestselling author in 2007 with her memoir Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar (Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar 2011).
Virginia Vallejo is presently known for her accusations against Colombian presidents Alfonso Lopez, Ernesto Samper and Alvaro Uribe, whom she has denounced as collaborators and beneficiaries of the drug cartels, and President Juan Manuel Santos, the former defense minister in charge of the distribution of seven billion dollars in American military aid to Colombia and responsible for the cover-up of the genocide committed by the cocaine barons and their paramilitary squads with the army, intelligence agencies, congressmen, wealthy ranchers and some of the most powerful Colombian entrepreneurs.
Virginia Vallejo-Garcia is the grand-daughter of Colombian finance minister Eduardo Vallejo-Varela. She attended the prestigious Anglo Colombian School in Bogotá, founded by her great uncle, ambassador to London Jaime Jaramillo-Arango. After her graduation in 1967, she worked as an English teacher in Centro Colombo-Americano. In 1969 she married architect Fernando Borrero-Caicedo, founder of Borrero, Zamorano & Giovanelli, whom she divorced in 1971. In 1972 she received her first offer to work on television and accepted it reluctantly; in due time, she would become one of the leading Colombian media personalities.
CAREER IN THE MEDIA
1972-1973: Debuts in her own section with political cartoonist Pepón in ¡Oiga Colombia!, Revista del Sábado (“Listen Colombia!, Saturday Night Review”), 8:00-9:00 pm. Directors: Carlos Lemos Simmonds and Aníbal Fernández de Soto.
1973-1977: News reporter for TV Sucesos-A3, 11:30 pm news. Director: Alberto Acosta.
1975: Hosts TV Crucigrama (“TV Crossword”, a contest).
1976: Co-hosts Cocine de Primera con Segundo ("Deluxe Cooking with Segundo") with chef Segundo Cabezas.
1978: Stars in Colombian Connection. Director Gustavo Nieto Roa.
1979: Portrayed in The Beautiful Women of Eldorado, Town and Country, November issue.
1980: Wins the 1979 “Best Television News Anchor” award of the APE for a second time.
1981: Founds TV Impacto, her television production company with journalist Margot Ricci.
1981: Only Colombian journalist present at the wedding of Charles and Diana, Princes of Wales, which she broadcasts for Caracol Radio during six hours. She receives job offers from the BBC and the Crown Information Center.
1982-1987: Becomes the official image and spokeswoman of Medias Di Lido, the leading Colombian pantyhose brand, for which she makes television commercials in Bogotá, Venice, Rio de Janeiro, San Juan and Cartagena.
1983-1984: Co-hosts El Show de las Estrellas (“The Show of the Stars”, Saturday night musical). Director: Jorge Barón.
1984: International editor of Grupo Radial Colombiano. Director: Carlos Lemos.
1985: Anchorwoman of Telediario, 12:30 pm news. Director Arturo Abella.
1985: Declines offer to become the first news anchor of Channel 51 in Miami.
1991: Elected Board Member of the Asociación Colombiana de Locutores (ACL, Association of Colombian Announcers).
1992-1993: Directs Picantísimo (“Super-Spicy!”, a radio talk show).
1992-1994: International editor of Noticiero Todelar (6:00-8:00 pm radio news). Directors: Juan Alvaro Castellanos (1991), Javier Ayala (1992) and Gabriel Ortiz (1993).
1999: In their millennium issue, magazine Hombre (“Man”) chooses Virginia Vallejo as “One of the ten sexiest Colombian women of the XX century”.
MULTILEVEL MARKETING DIAMOND
In late 1995, after her career in the media ended in 1994, Virginia Vallejo initiated her activity in the multilevel marketing industry. As founding distributor for the Colombian and South American operation of Neways International of Springville, Utah, she became the first Colombian multilevel marketing diamond. In January 1998, in the Opryland of Nashville, Tennessee, she was awarded The President’s Cup among almost one million Neways distributors worldwide; but five months later her contract was cancelled and her network of thirty thousand distributors rolled-up to the owners of the company in Utah.
In the course of the commercial agency lawsuit introduced by the celebrity against the multilevel marketing company, Neways fled the country, uninstalled systems, incinerated fourteen million dollars in orders and stole eighteen accounting books from the court. All of Virginia Vallejo’s requests to the authorities for the investigation of the tax fraud and money laundering scam - confirmed by five judicial accountants - were ignored.
TRIALS VS. SANTOFIMIO, NEWAYS AND THE CALI CARTEL BOSSES
In July 2006, former senator Alberto Santofimio - Pablo Escobar's link to the elite of the Colombian political class and his choice for president in 1986 - was on trial for conspiracy in the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, committed by Escobar in 1989. When the former anchorwoman offered her testimony to the Attorney General, the judge of the case closed it. In Colombia, those who offer their cooperation to the criminal justice system are often murdered or disappeared, so she asked the American Government for protection in exchange for her cooperation in USA vs. Mower - Neways owners were on trial in Utah - and her information on the links of the Cali cartel bosses with Colombian presidents and prominent political figures. The family of Gilberto and Miguel Rodríguez-Orejuela had owned Grupo Radial Colombiano, a network of stations where she had worked as international editor in 1984, and the trial was scheduled to begin in September 2006 in Florida.
THE UNITED STATES SAVE VIRGINIA VALLEJO’S LIFE
On July 18, 2006 the journalist arrived in Miami in a special flight of the DOJ and the DEA. The official statement of the American embassy in Bogotá read: “Today, for safety and security reasons, we have escorted Ms. Virginia Vallejo to the United States, where her cooperation is sought in ongoing drug investigations”. The news created a media frenzy in Colombia, South America and Florida.
On July 24, a video that Virginia Vallejo had taped in the event that she was killed before she could testify against Santofimio was aired on television with a 58% rating and an audience of fourteen million, larger that the final match of the 2006 World Soccer Cup. She described how, in her presence, Santofimio had instigated her lover to eliminate senator Galán at least on three occasions between 1983 and 1985. Polls gave her 78% credibility.
Virginia Vallejo could not enter the Witness Protection Program because her information on the links between the drug cartels, the presidents and the army was useless for the ongoing case for crimes committed after 1997. If she returned to Colombia she would be killed, so she chose to stay in the United States and file for political asylum.
Six weeks later, the Rodríguez-Orejuela brothers pleaded guilty without going to trial; they were given thirty years and their frozen 2.1 billion dollar fortune was split between the United States and Colombia. In November 2006, Thomas and Leslie DeeAnn Mower were sentenced to three years for tax fraud and obstruction of justice. In October 2007, Alberto Santofimio was found guilty and given twenty-four years, but one year later he was acquitted on basis of the reasonable doubt (the same used in OJ Simpson’s verdict).
LOVING PABLO, HATING ESCOBAR
Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar - Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar in English, coming out in 2011 with additional content - is both a love story and the chronicle of the evolution of a politician and benefactor of the poor into the terrorist that built with his presidents and their media the most powerful machinery of continental corruption.
Virginia Vallejo describes how the explosive growth of the drug industry that turned Escobar and his partners into overnight billionaires was based on the licenses for private landing strips, airplanes, helicopters and flights granted to the cartel bosses in 1980-1982 by the Director of the Civil Aviation Agency, Alvaro Uribe-Vélez, who later became the first Colombian reelected president (2002-2010).
On February 14, 2009 Myles Frechette, US Ambassador to Colombia during the government of Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) and the political scandal known as the Proceso 8000, expressed his concern over the connections of Cesar Villegas, Director of Projects of the Colombian Civil Aviation Agency, with drug traffickers. Villegas was murdered in 2002, on the eve of a meeting with officers of the American Embassy in Bogota.
In 2008, César Gaviria - the Colombian president that ended Escobar’s reign of terror in 1993 - accused the Colombian presidential palace, Casa de Nariño, of “weeping over Pablo Escobar’s dead body”.
TESTIMONY IN PALACE OF JUSTICE SIEGE
On July 11th 2008, the Colombian Attorney General ordered Virginia Vallejo’s testimony in the reopened case of the Palace of Justice siege, committed by the rebel group M-19 in November 1985. She was asked to explain the contents of That Palace in Flames, which describes Escobar’s role in the tragedy and the massacre committed by the army during the siege and in the aftermath. The testimony, protected by gag order, was filtered to El Tiempo and Noticias Uno, which adulterated it to cover-up the crimes of the military.
TESTIMONY IN THE GALAN ASSASINATION CASE
In July 2009, Virginia Vallejo was asked to testify in the reopened case of Luis Carlos Galan's assassination and confirm the claims made in her book against the leading members of the original paramilitary squads. The crime was committed by Escobar’s hitmen in 1989, when she was living in Germany and cooperating with Interpol. The testimony, given under gag order, was immediately filtered by the prosecution to the media linked to the family of the defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos.
ESCOBAR’S CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
On May 14th 2010, Virginia Vallejo filed a request in the Office of the Colombian Inspector General, Alejandro Ordóñez-Maldonado, for the investigation of the consul and prosecutors that had filtered her testimonies and personal data to the media, following the murder of three more witnesses in the Galán case. Ordóñez ignored her request.
CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS AGAINST PRESIDENTIAL FAMILIES
On October 17th 2008, Virginia Vallejo filed criminal complaint number 26095 for libel and slander in the Colombian Attorney’s General Office against Fernando Rodríguez-Mondragón, a former convict and son of Cali Cartel boss Gilberto Rodriguez’s, his ghost-writer and Oveja Negra-Quintero Editores. (Due to criminal complaints for piracy introduced in 1993 by Colombian Nobel prize laureate Gabriel García-Marquez against Oveja Negra - his erstwhile publishers - Virginia Vallejo had ignored their offer to publish Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar.)
On December 5th 2008, Virginia Vallejo filed criminal complaint number 32205 against Semana magazine, its director Alejandro Santos and journalists Antonio Caballero and Sandra Janer. The criminal case in the Colombian Attorneys General’s Office is supported by dozens of pages of evidence of libel, slander, promotion of the pirate edition of Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar and instigation of crimes against her life, integrity and estate. (Semana’s publisher is Felipe López-Caballero, a son of former president Alfonso López and his wife Cecilia Caballero - beneficiaries of the Cali and Medellín cartels - and a staunch protector of Escobar’s widow, now María Isabel Santos Caballero, involved with her son and her accountant lover in the money laundering of eight hundred million dollars in Argentina).
On December 30,
2008 Virginia Vallejo filed criminal complaint number 34379 against El
Tiempo, its erstwhile director Enrique Santos - a brother of president Juan
Manuel Santos - and several journalists for libel, slander, and the
unauthorized reproduction of an entire chapter of her book over more than
three hundred monetary offers for her head and promotions of the pirate copy
of Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar. (El Tiempo and the Santos
family are partners of Pablo Escobar’s cousin José Obdulio Gaviria, whose
brothers paid for the murder of Guillermo Cano, director of El Espectador,
On June 3, 2010, Virginia Vallejo was granted asylum on basis of political opinion under the precepts of the Constitution of the United States of America, the Geneva Convention against Torture and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The case was supported by almost eight hundred pages of documentary evidence, and the judge listed almost one hundred and fifty reasons to grant her the official status of asylee.
Copyright © Virginia Vallejo 2010. Library of Congress, Washington D.C.