Virginia Vallejo-Garcia is a Colombian author, journalist, media
personality, socialite, and political asylee in the United States of America
since June 3rd 2010. An award-winning
anchorwoman, she lost her career in television and radio in
1994 after her romantic relationship of five years (1983-1987) with
Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellin
cartel. In 1997, she became the first Colombian multilevel marketing
“Diamond”, and from 2007 to 2009, the #1 bestselling author in Spanish in
the United States with her memoir “Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar”
(Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar) published by Random House Mondadori.
Virginia Vallejo is known for her accusations against Colombian presidents
Alfonso López, Ernesto Samper and Álvaro Uribe, whom she has denounced as
beneficiaries of the Medellín and Cali cocaine cartels; and against
President Juan Manuel Santos, Uribe’s defense minister in charge of the
distribution of 7 billion dollars of Plan Colombia and responsible
for the “false positives”, the killings of hundreds of poor young men to
present them to the Department of State and the Pentagon as “FARC rebels
killed in combat”.
In 2017, the
Spanish actress Penelope Cruz will play her role in the biopic “Escobar”,
with his husband Javier Bardem in the role of the drug lord.
Virginia Vallejo-García is the daughter of Juan Vallejo-Jaramillo
and Mary García-Rivera. She is the grand-daughter of Colombian finance
Eduardo Vallejo-Varela, a descendant of
the family of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, leader of the
Californios that shaped the transition of California from Mexico to the
United States of America. Her paternal grandmother, Sofía Jaramillo-Arango,
can track her long lineage to several royal European houses and Charlemagne.
Her mother was the daughter of Ramón García, a Spanish citizen that had
moved to Colombia in the early 20th century, and Josefina Rivera-Rivera,
member of a conservative family linked to several senators of the Valle del
Virginia Vallejo attended the prestigious
Anglo-Colombian School in
Bogotá, founded by her great uncle,
Jaime Jaramillo-Arango, ambassador to
London during the World War II. After her graduation in 1967,
she worked as an English teacher in Centro Colombo-Americano and, in
1969, in the presidency of Banco del Comercio, where she met the
architect of the institution, Fernando Borrero-Caicedo, founder of
Borrero, Zamorano & Giovanelli, in
those days the leading architectural firm of Cali (capital of the Department
Valle del Cauca). The two were married in Venezuela in October 1969. After
their divorce in 1971, she began working as director of public relations of
Cervecería Andina, the second most important Colombian brewery
In early 1972,
Virginia Vallejo received her first offer to work on television that she
accepted reluctantly due to the opposition of her family and friends. In due
time, she become one of the most recognizable names, images and voices of
the media industry in South America.
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.
Co-hosts Éxitos 73, Éxitos 74 and Éxitos 75, 8:00-9:00
PM Saturday night musical, THOY Television.
Director: Eucario Bermúdez.
1973-1977: News reporter for TV Sucesos-A3, 11:30 PM. Director:
Reporter and film critic for ¡Oiga Colombia!, Revista del Sábado.
Directors: Alberto Acosta and Mario Franco.
Hosts TV Crucigrama (“TV Crossword”, a contest).
Co-hosts Cocine de Primera con Segundo ("Deluxe Cooking with
chef Segundo Cabezas.
International editor of TV Sucesos-A3, 12:00 PM edition.
1978: Elected Board Member of the
Asociación Colombiana de Locutores
(ACL, Association of Colombian Announcers).
1978: Invited by the
Taiwanese Government to cover the
inauguration of President
Chiang Ching-kuo (son of General Chang
1978: Stars in
Colombian Connection. Director:
Gustavo Nieto Roa.
David Stivel - Argentinian theater,
television and movie director, and head of the “Clan Stivel”- whom
she divorces in
Co-anchors Noticiero 24 Horas (7:00 PM news). Directors: Mauricio
Gómez and Sergio Arboleda.
1979: Wins the
1978 “Best Television News Anchor”
award from the Asociación de Periodistas del Espectáculo (APE,
Association of Media Journalists).
in The Beautiful Women of Eldorado, Town and Country, November issue.
Co-hosts ¡Cuidado con las Mujeres!,
beauty pageant for different radio
1980: Wins the 1979 “Best Television
News Anchor” award of the APE for a second time.
Co-hosts ¡Llegaron las Mujeres!, Caracol Radio, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM.
1981: Founds TV Impacto, her
television production company with journalist Margot Ricci.
1981: Invited by the Government of
Israel to the
Holy Land and
1981: Only Colombian journalist present at the wedding of
Diana, Princes of Wales, which she
Caracol Radio during six hours. She
receives job offers from the BBC and the Crown Information Center.
Directs and presents ¡Al Ataque!, produced by TV Impacto, 6:00-7:00
Hosts Hoy por Hoy, Magazín del Lunes (“Today, the Monday Night
Magazine”). Director: Fernando Buitrago.
1984-1987: Becomes the official image and spokeswoman of Medias
Di Lido, the leading Colombian pantyhose brand, for which she makes
television commercials in
Rio de Janeiro,
San Juan and Cartagena.
El Show de las Estrellas (“The Show
of the Stars”), 8:00-10:00 PM.
Director: Jorge Barón.
International editor of Grupo Radial Colombiano. Director: Carlos Lemos.
Anchorwoman of Telediario, 12:30 PM news. Director Arturo Abella.
offer to become the first news anchor of Channel 51 in Miami.
1985: Appears on the covers of
Bazaar and Cosmopolitan.
Elenco magazine names her “The
Symbol of an Era”.
1988: Travels to Germany with a scholarship in economic journalism
and studies at the
Internationales Institut für Journalismus
1991: Returns to Colombia and stars in
Sombra de tu Sombra,
Caracol TV. 8:00-9:00 PM
Board Member of the Asociación Colombiana de Locutores (ACL,
Association of Colombian Announcers).
Directs Picantísimo (“Super-Spicy!”), a radio talk show. 3:00-6:00 PM
Indiscretísimo, a series of
interviews with Colombian personalities. Director: Manuel Prado.
1992-1994: International editor of
Noticiero Todelar, radio news,
6:00-8:00 PM. 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 10
sexiest Colombian women of the XX century” and post her image next to Sofia
After her career in the media ended in 1994, Virginia Vallejo
initiated her activity in the
multilevel marketing industry (MLM) in
late 1995. As the founding distributor for the Colombian and South American
Neways International of
Utah, in 1997 she became the first
Colombian independent distributor with the rank Diamond. In January
1998, in the
Tennessee, she was awarded the
President’s Cup among almost one million Neways distributors worldwide;
but five months later, her contract was cancelled. Her network of 22,500
independent distributors in the first 18 months rolled-up to the children of
the owners of Neways, Thomas and Leslie Dee Mower.
Virginia Vallejo hired Luis Fernando Salazar and Juan Pablo Riveros of Luis
Fernando Salazar Asociados to represent her in a commercial agency
lawsuit against Neways de Colombia. The losses of her network, and
the exponentially growth in her sub continental operation, were valued in
US $30 million by the firm of Enrique Luque Carulla, former dean of
Universidad de los Andes. Immediately, Neways closed the branch, and their
officers fled Colombia with millions of dollars from orders of the
distributors and their tax retentions.
Neways hired Juan Manuel Garrido and William Araque of Baker &
McKenzie de Colombia as their counsel. Juan Pablo Riveros Lara
joined immediately B&MK: Luis Fernando Salazar had sold Virginia Vallejo’s
case and evidence to the counsel of her counterpart. The lawyers of both
firms travelled to San Francisco, where they split the retainer of hundreds
of thousands of dollars that Thomas Mower had paid to his attorneys. To
uninstall the accounting systems that proved the commercial agency and the
exponential growth of the network, Araque and Garrido hired an accountant
from the mob as Neways’s liquidator. Then, they remade the accounting
manually and incinerated US $14 million in orders and tax retentions.
Virginia Vallejo’s new attorney requested the exhibition of Virginia
Vallejo’s statements in court, but Judge Jaime Chavarro-Mahecha (known for
his corruption) denied the petition. He dilated the case during almost 14
years, and ignored the multimillion compensations of the plaintiff that five
court accountants had calculated.
Virginia Vallejo offered her 550 pages-long monthly statements to the
Colombian enforcement agencies; but all of them refused to investigate the
multimillion fraud against thousands of independent distributors and the
Colombian IRS. The felonies were confirmed by all the accountants assigned
by the court, but the Inspector General - Edgardo Maya-Villazón - and
Alfonso Gómez-Mendez, Attorney General of President Ernesto Samper
(1994-1998), blocked all the investigations. (Samper had received millions
of dollars from the Cali cartel for his presidential campaign. Before the
investigations of the Proceso 8000, Gómez-Méndez had incinerated all
the documents that could prove the relationship of his boss, President
Alfonso López-Michelsen, with the Rodríguez-Orejuela kingpins.)
In 2003, Thomas
and Dee Mower and their counsel were indicted in Utah for conspiracy in
money laundering and tax fraud of US $4 million in Malaysia and Australia.
Virginia’s pleas to the American Embassy to investigate the fraud were also
ignored by attaches of the IRS, FBI and DOJ. In March 2005, the DOJ
sentenced Tom and Dee Mower and their lawyer to 30 months in jail for the
previous felonies and obstruction of justice during the investigations of
the DOJ. The Russian deaths were confirmed to Virginia Vallejo in 2006 by
the special agent of the FBI in charge of the Mowers’ prosecution.
OF SENATOR SANTOFIMIO AND THE CALI CARTEL BOSSES
2006, former senator
Alberto Santofimio -
Pablo Escobar's link to the political
elite - was on trial for conspiracy in the assassination of presidential
Luis Carlos Galán, committed by Pablo
Escobar’s hitmen in August 1989. Virginia Vallejo offered her testimony to
the Attorney General Iguarán, but the judge of the case and the Inspector
General Maya-Villazón closed the case immediately.
those who offer their cooperation to the criminal justice system are often
murdered or disappeared, so Virginia Vallejo asked the American Government
for her protection, in exchange for information and evidence on the criminal
organization of the Mower family in 38 countries, and the links of the Cali
cartel bosses with Colombian presidents and prominent politicians. The
family of Gilberto and Miguel Rodríguez-Orejuela had owned Grupo Radial
Colombiano, a network of stations where Virginia Vallejo had worked as
international editor in 1984, and the brothers' trial was scheduled to begin
in Florida in September 2006.
UNITED STATES SAVES VIRGINIA VALLEJO’S LIFE
2006, the former anchor woman
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 media frenzy in Colombia, South
America and Florida.
In the event of her death before her meeting with the Attorney
General Iguarán in early July to offer her testimony against Alberto
Santofimio, Virginia Vallejo taped a home video in which she described the
links of the former justice minister, senator and presidential candidate
with Pablo Escobar. In the video she described how, in her presence, in
1983, 1985 and 1987, Santofimio instigated
the elimination of Luis Carlos Galán’s
“before he became the next president and extradite him (Escobar) to the
After her arrival in Miami, Canal
RCN of Bogotá purchased the video. They aired it on
July 24th 2006, and the
program paralyzed Colombia: it was
watched by 14 million people - an audience larger the final match of
the 2006 World Soccer Cup - and Gallup
reported 58% rating, the highest in Colombian history.
could not enter the Witness Protection Program because her
information on the links between the drug cartels and politicians were old
for the ongoing investigations on crimes committed by the Rodríguez-Orejuela
after the 1997 amnesty. (At the time, Virginia was training thousands of
Neways distributors and prospects). If she returned to Colombia, the
whistleblower journalist would be killed, so she decided to stay in Miami
and request political asylum in the United States.
Six weeks later, the
Rodríguez-Orejuela brothers pleaded
guilty without going to trial, and they were given 30 years in prison. The
DOJ took control of 2.1 billion dollars that had been frozen, and the
fortune was split between the United States and Colombia.
Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar
(Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar, to be released in English in late
2015) is both a memoir of the author and a biography of her former lover. It
is the chronicle of the evolution of a young pioneer and entrepreneur of
crime that built in just 15 years the most powerful and brutal machinery of
continental corruption ever seen. 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, Álvaro Uribe-Vélez,
who later became the first Colombian reelected president (2002-2010).
On February 14th,
2009 Myles Frechette - United States Ambassador to Colombia during Ernesto
Samper’s government - expressed his concern over “the connections of
Cesar Villegas -Director of Projects of the Colombian Civil Aviation Agency
- with drug traffickers”.“El Bandi” Villegas was Álvaro Uribe’s
heir in the Agency and also a close friend of Ernesto Samper’s; he was
killed in 2002, a few days after Uribe’s triumph as president, on the eve of
a meeting with officers of the DEA in the American Embassy.
In October 2007,
“Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar” occupied place #272 in Amazon
Books General, # 2 in Foreign Language Non-Fiction General, and #
5 in Spanish General. During many months, it was # 1 in Spanish
History, Biography, Memoirs, True Crime and Contemporary Subject. Until
May 2009, it occupied places #1 in Barnes &Noble’s Spanish History, Latin
American History, South American History and Colombian History, and
place # 3 in Women’s Biography General. In Tower Books, it was the
only book in Spanish in the first 100 Modern History bestsellers,
with place #7.
The release of
‘Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar’ caused another political storm.
Virginia Vallejo’s book was mentioned in thousands of articles worldwide,
including The New York Times, Time, Newsweek and
People. Her accusations against on President Uribe were commented by
Colombian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorean presidents, the State Department and
the rebel organization FARC. César Gaviria - the Colombian president that
ended Escobar’s reign of terror in 1993 - accused (Uribe’s) Presidential
Palace of “weeping over Pablo Escobar’s dead body. The three-hour
interviews with Maria Elvira Live! in Miami had ratings superior to
50%. In Brazil, her interview to TV Globo’s Fantastico! had 54%
ratings. (Her interview with CNN en Español can be seen in Virginia
Vallejo’s website and YouTube channel.)
IN THE CASE # 9755-4, PALACE OF JUSTICE SIEGE
July 11th 2008, the
Colombian Attorney General Mendoza-Diago 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”, a chapter of
her book that describes Escobar’s role in the tragedy, the
assassination of the Supreme Court Justices, and the massacre committed by
the army during the siege and the aftermath. Her testimony was videotaped;
but despite protection by gag order, it was filtered immediately to
Noticias Uno and Revista Semana, owned by Felipe López-Caballero
- son of President López-Michelsen -, partner of Pablo Escobar’s in the
magazine and protector of his family. In order to cover-up the crimes of the
Medellín cartel and the military, the media adulterated completely
IN THE CASE #297, LUIS CARLOS
In July 2009, Attorney General Guillermo Mendoza and Inspector
General Alejandro Ordóñez ordered Virginia Vallejo’s testimony in the
reopened case of Luis Carlos Galan's assassination. The purpose was to
confirm the claims made in her book against leaders of the paramilitary
squads founded by Pablo Escobar and his partners in 1981. The senator’s
murder had been committed by 18 Escobar’s hitmen in 1989, two years after
the ending of her relationship with Escobar, and when she was living in
Germany, engaged to a prominent German entrepreneur, and cooperating with
Bundeskriminalamt, Interpol Weisbaden. On the way to the Colombian
consulate, the government or military tried to kill her. The journalist
survived the attack, but she was injured and hospitalized.
ESCOBAR’S CRIMES “AGAINST HUMANITY”
Escobar’s terrorist acts were reclassified as Crimes against Humanity
by the International Criminal Court. The Attorney General Mendoza-Diago
determined that, before their referral to the ICC, the complaints of victims
and families had to been filed individually in Colombia. To prevent the
reparation of dozens of thousands of victims through a class action lawsuit,
Pablo Escobar’s son and siblings engaged in an impressive worldwide public
relations campaign with the narcopresidents and their media moguls,
coordinated by Publicaciones Semana: the Organización Ardila-Lülle;
Beatrice, Alejandro and Andres Santo Domingo of New York; Haim Saban’s
Univision and Carlos Slim’s Telmex, that hired Christian Amanpour for an
apology of Escobar and his family. All of them had been involved in massive
laundering and tax fraud, and the subject of Virginia Vallejo’s second book.
On May 14th
2010, Virginia Vallejo filed a request in the Office of the Colombian
Inspector General, Alejandro Ordóñez, 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 - reputedly associated with the paramilitary Autodefensas de
Colombia AUC - ignored the request.
ASYLUM IN THE UNITED STATES
On June 3rd,
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 brutal attacks, unending harassment, character assassination and
threats against the Colombian author and whistleblower were supported by
hundreds of pages of documentary evidence, including tapes and videos.
During more than one hour, the Honorable Liliana Torreh-Bayouth listed
dozens of reasons to grant her political asylum.
Six days later,
on June 9th 2010, Colonel (ret) Alfonso Plazas-Vega was sentenced
to 30 years in prison for the disappearance of the employees of the
cafeteria of the Palace of Justice and a rebel woman detained after the
conflagration. Immediately, President
Uribe attacked the verdict on television and announced the retaliation of
the army against “corrupt judges”. The next week, an international
humanitarian organization had to take Judge Maria Stella Jara and her 4
year-old boy out of Colombia to save their lives.
On August 31st
2011 - and after 22 years of delays and appeals - Alberto Santofimio was
sentenced to 24 years in jail for conspiracy with Pablo Escobar in the
assassination of Luis Carlos Galán and two of his bodyguards.
VALLEJO’S STORY, TO HOLLYWOOD
2016 Cannes Film Festival, Luc Besson of EuropaCorp and their American
partners announced their film “Escobar”, based on “Loving Pablo, Hating
Escobar”, Virginia Vallejo’s memoir. Javier Bardem will play the role of
Pablo Escobar, and Penelope Cruz will be Virginia Vallejo. The biopic will
be directed by Fernando León de Aranoa and distributed by Millennium Films
“Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar” will be published in English and other
languages in 2017, before the release of the movie.