Pain of Pablo Escobar's shameful legacy displayed outside controversial new Vancouver restaurant

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      It's often not good news for a company when it faces a boycott by potential customers.

      And sometimes, responding to the criticism can be costly, particularly if it includes changing a name and everything that goes along with that.

      This is the predicament facing the owners of Escobar, a new Latin American-inspired eatery and bar in the heart of Vancouver's Fraserhood neighbourhood.

      On opening night on Friday (May 11), dozens of protesters showed up to express their disgust for a restaurant carries the same name as a notorious Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

      They are appalled that a mass murderer who fomented widespread corruption around the world is being honoured in this way.

      One of the restaurant's critics, Quito-born filmmaker David Bercovici-Artieda, asked on his Facebook page how the City of Vancouver could even allow this.

      He wondered whether the next restaurant in the Downtown Eastside is going to be named Pickton after Canada's worst serial killer, Robert Pickton.

      A commenter on wryly stated that if people like the food at Escobar, he would open a schnitzel joint called Hitler.

      However, one of Escobar's owners, Ari Demosten, has claimed this it was never his intention to celebrate Pablo Escobar.

      "All I can really say is that Escobar is just a play on words, emphasizing ‘bar’ and Latin influence,” Demosten told the Straight by phone before opening day. “We aren’t trying to celebrate in anyway the negative elements of drug cartels, violence, or murder. We’re really here celebrating a Latin American-inspired bar atmosphere.”

      There are dance clubs named Escobar in Toronto and Montreal, and dining establishments named Escobar in Atlanta, Mumbai, and Singapore.

      The one in Singapore generated opposition for the same reason as the Vancouver restaurant.

      Bercovici-Artieda noted on his Facebook page that even Pablo Escobar's son, architect Sebastián Marroquin, changed his name to erase the shame.

      Marroquin described the horrors of growing up in the Escobar family in the 2009 documentary Sins of My Father, which was directed by Nicolás Entel.

      The son went public with his story as an attempt to seek reconciliation with the victims of his father's murderous sprees.

      However, Marroquin only agreed to be interviewed for the film if the name "Escobar" did not appear in the title.

      Watch the trailer and the full English-language-dubbed version below.

      Watch the trailer for the film Sins of My Father.

      Meanwhile, an online petition has gathered more than 1,600 signatures, as of this writing, objecting to what it calls "narcotourism and narcohospitality".

      It calls on Demostan and co-owner Alex Kyriazis to change the name of Escobar in Vancouver. 

      "To this day, Colombians are still trying to reconcile with the terror, fear and violence he induced," the petition states.

      Watch the full English-language-dubbed version of Sins of My Father.