Change "Escobar" (YVR) restaurant name and embrace cultural awareness
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As members of the the culturally-diverse community of Vancouver, which thrives on a mélange of traditions, societal awareness and an unmatched ability to embrace people from every background, we call on Alex Kyriazis and Ari Demosten to reconsider the name "Escobar" for their soon-to-open Vancouver eatery.
If you are a Vancouverite who embraces our diversity and respects it, we ask you to please sign this petition. By signing and leaving your respectful comments, you are asking for this name change so that one day you can visit this unique eatery and enjoy their Latin-inspired food and hospitality.
- Even if it is not their intention, Kyriazis and Demosten are indirectly glamorizing a controversial figure in history who deserves no such recognition. By naming their business Escobar, they are resurrecting a legacy of atrocities that took place in his name, in a nation that is still trying to recover.
The Main Course
- Details matter. If the new establishment is prepared to showcase and embrace Latin culture, a 100,000+ Vancouver-based Latin American community is ready to support it. On the other hand, if the branding of the new establishment continues to be guided by misinformation, the same community that you are hoping will become patrons will continue to work to rightfully inform those who did not have to suffer through Escobar's terrorism first hand.
- We support small businesses in Vancouver aiming to create new experiences, particularly if they adopt and showcase elements of visible minority cultures. This soon-to-open eatery has the opportunity to do the right thing by changing the name and helping, one serving at a time, to erase the painful memories of so many families that were affected by narco-trafficking. The same families that are now, due to misinformation and pop culture, having wounds re-open through narcotourism and narcohospitality.
More about the name Escobar
Escobar—a common Latin American last name worthy of many humble, prosperous and generous families—was made a household name around the world in the 1980s and 90s for the wrong reasons. During this tumultuous decade, narco-trafficker Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was among the richest men in the world and responsible for a drug-smuggling empire that included his native Colombia among a list of a dozen countries. This empire came at a great cost to the people of this small nation. Blood, death and a robust list of human rights violations were the currency he mercilessly built his empire on.
To this day, Colombians are still trying to reconcile with the terror, fear and violence he induced. Adored by many and feared by many more, Escobar's duality was described by Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Márquez as a monstrous Pied Piper:
At the height of his splendor, people put up altars with his picture and lit candles to him in the slums of Medellín. It was believed he could perform miracles. No Colombian in history ever possessed or exercised a talent like his for shaping public opinion. And none had a greater power to corrupt. The most unsettling and dangerous aspect of his personality was his total inability to distinguish between good and evil.
- News of a Kidnapping, 1993
This is more than "just a name" for an entire community. It's a concept and period in time that Colombians lived surrounded by terrorism, violence and insecurity. To this day we live with the memories of the many lives that were lost and the families who were torn apart. We don't need a reminder to trigger these nightmares.
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