It is often said that marriage is not a bed of roses but this took on an extra significance in the case of Maria Victoria Henao. Married to one of the most notorious criminals in the world, Henao’s life was a bag of mixed fortunes. On one hand, she lived a life of luxury financed by her husband’s wealth; while on another, she never knew peace as they had numerous run-ins with the law. This pattern would continue until her husband was gunned down by the authorities, leaving her to deal with the consequences of his actions.
Maria Victoria Henao’s Fact Sheet
How Maria Victoria Henao Met Pablo Escobar
Maria Victoria Henao was born in Colombia in the year 1961. She hailed from a reputable, conservative family and has at least two brothers: Carlos (now late) and Pastora. Henao grew up in the Envigado district of Medellin and met Escobar, another Medellin native, at the age of 12.
The pair got to know each through Henao’s brother, Carlos. Some sources believe he was a part of Escobar’s drug gang while others insist he was an upstanding fellow who had no business with drugs. Whichever it was, Henao met Escobar through her brother. He was immediately smitten with her and treated her like a princess.
On her part, Maria Victoria Henao was impressed by his compassionate nature and fell in love with him. Her parents frowned at this relationship but the young girl stuck to her guns. She and Escobar eventually eloped and tied the knot in 1976; she was 15 at the time while he was 27.
The Grim Realities of Her Marriage
Henao’s husband founded his notorious Medellin cartel in the same year that they got married. He proceeded to create lucrative smuggling routes into America and subsequently became responsible for about 80% of the cocaine going into that country. Escobar held sway between the 80s and 90s, amassing as much as $30 billion. He also dealt ruthlessly with anybody that dared to stand in his way including judges, policemen, and prominent politicians. Throughout this reign of terror, Henao, who had birthed two children, repeatedly called on her husband to turn from his ways but he refused.
He further hurt her by carrying on affairs with several ladies including a broadcast journalist named Virginia Vallejo. Given this grim reality, Henao resigned herself to fate and focused on creating a semblance of normal family life for her and her kids. She also had to content herself with brief periodic visits to her man as he was often holed up in his numerous safe houses.
This was what being married to Escobar looked like. Some people have since wondered why Henao didn’t leave the marriage. She maintains that she stayed because of love but some believe it was her love for material things that influenced her.
Moving on after Her Husband’s Demise
Maria Victoria Henao and her children endured the cloak and dagger lifestyle for several years until their benefactor was gunned down by the Colombian Army in December 1993. They subsequently packed their bags and sought refuge in several countries but were rejected. Eventually, the family gained asylum in Argentina and have been living in the country’s capital (Buenos Aires) ever since then.
Maria Victoria Henao has now changed her name to Maria Isabel Santos Caballero and is working towards righting some of the wrongs done by her husband. It is, however, possible that Henao may not have truly repented as she faced accusations of laundering money for a Colombian drug lord in June 2018.
Atoning for Her Husband’s Sins
Since fleeing Columbia, Maria Victoria Henao has worked to make amends for her husband’s sins. She has reached out to warring cartels to make peace with them. She has also publicly apologized to the people of Colombia for the terror that her husband wrought in the country in the 80s and 90s.
In an exclusive interview with a Columbia radio station (W Radio) in November 2018, Henao asked for forgiveness for the mistakes of her youth but maintained that she didn’t play an active role in her husband’s cartel. According to the lady, she was as much a victim as everybody else and she re-echoed this is her book, My Life and Prison with Pablo Escobar.
In the memoir, Henao revealed that she met Escobar as a naive girl and he forced her to have an abortion at the age of 14. He continued this manipulative and controlling pattern all through their union and she had no choice but to resign herself to the role of a housewife.
What Have Her Children Been Up To?
Henao’s marriage to Pablo Escobar produced two kids: a son named Juan Pablo (b. February 1977) and his sister Manuela (b. 1984). Both also reside in Buenos Aires just like their mother. Juan Pablo now goes by Sebastian Marroquin and is a trained architect. He is also a writer and has worked to make amends for his father’s sins.
Sebastian took part in a 2009 documentary film, Sins of My Father, which saw him apologize to the children of some personalities his father murdered. He has also penned books on his father’s life and launched an Escobar clothing brand.
His sister (now Juana Manuela Marroquin Santos) has largely flown under the radar. Some sources state that she is working as an engineer in America. The likely reality, however, is that she still resides in Buenos Aires with her brother and his wife, and has some mental issues. This reportedly stems from the paranoia that she would be discovered and hounded for her father’s sins someday.
Is Maria Victoria Henao Wealthy?
Henao’s husband famously had a net worth of $30 billion at the time of his demise. This stemmed from his extensive drug empire and it enabled him to build several lavish properties, both at home and abroad. Following his death, several of his properties and accounts were seized by the Colombian government, meaning that Henao and her kids never got to inherit his wealth.
Therefore, Maria Victoria Henao had to work for a living in the real estate sector. She has undoubtedly accumulated some decent income but it won’t be in the 7-figure region. We may also surmise that Henao and her family may have had money troubles that forced them to dabble into illicit activities.
In June 2018, she and her son were accused of using their businesses as a front for laundering money for a Colombian drug dealer. They denied the allegations and maintained that they were innocent of any wrongdoing.