It’s safe to say that since his election to office, Donald Trump has riled many people. The latest in that seemingly ever-growing list is the brother of late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
The weapon of choice this time around is not cartel violence, but a new crypto-currency aimed at dethroning the US president.
Roberto Escobar, a one-time co-founder of the infamous Medellín cartel, claims to be targeting Trump directly in a crowdfunding campaign to launch a new dollar-pegged digital currency. The initial coin offering, unimaginatively called ‘ESCOBAR,’ is an Ethereum-based token, or stablecoin, worth one US dollar.
The campaign, which its organizers say was originally launched on GoFundMe that the US government censored, has a target to raise $50 million. According to the campaign’s “Impeach Trump Fund” website, millions in funds have already come in.
According to crypto publication Hark Fork, the move to crypto is to prevent “centralized platforms” from further censoring the fundraising efforts of the Escobar estate, which, says the publication “is pledged to be focused almost entirely on dethroning Trump.”
The CEO of Escobar Inc, as the venture is called, Olof Gustafsson, told the outlet that “after raising $10 million in just 10 hours we were shut down by GoFundMe and within 24 hours launched the ESCOBAR stablecoin crypto-currency to avoid anyone censoring us again. We believe the Trump Administration or President Trump shut us down.”
Hark Fork ran screenshots from the GoFundMe website which showed the $10 million tally and also that the page had been put “under review” before it was shut down.
Escobar Inc also claim it is more trustworthy than the world’s biggest stablecoin, Tether (USDT). A cynic might say it’s a tricky comparison. Tether has been embroiled in a mountain of auditing and market manipulation accusations in recent months, while the Escobar name is still best known for running what was, in the 1990s, the world’s biggest drug cartel.
Daniel Reitberg, Escobar Inc’s COO, is now keen to put a far more positive spin on the family’s past: “Yes, we had plans to release this crypto-currency in 2019 as a stablecoin alternative to the USD Tether. We do not trust the USDT. We think that people should use our coin, as we have a much larger business sense than most other companies out there and Roberto Escobar has made hundreds of billions of dollars throughout his career.”
Roberto, or to give him his full name, Roberto de Jesús Escobar Gaviria, will turn 72 this week and is now half blind because of a letter bomb sent to him when he was in jail. He was imprisoned for 10 years for his role as his brother’s accountant and in helping build the Medellin cartel, that in the 1970s and ’80s was reportedly responsible for nearly 80% of the world’s cocaine traffic and brought Pablo a net worth of US$25 billion.
Roberto formed Escobar Inc with Gustafsson in 2014 after being released from jail and it is not the first time the company has dabbled in digital currencies. After accusing the CIA of creating Bitcoin, and also saying one day it will also try to destroy it, Roberto launched ‘Diet Bitcoin’ in March last year. The forked DDX token still exists but its value has collapsed over the past year.
Why Roberto Escobar is targeting the US President at this time has not been made clear, but what’s more certain is, as Trump’s economic crusades cause increased instability outside America, more countries and companies are going to be seeking alternatives to the greenback. And crypto, with or without the Escobars, does appear to be one way forward.