Birthday: August 26, 1949
Age: 71 Years, 71 Year Old Females
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Virginia Vallejo García
Born in: Cartago, Valle del Cauca
Famous as: Author
Spouse/Ex-: David Stivel (m. 1978–1983), Fernando Borrero (m. 1969–1971)
father: Juan Vallejo Jaramillo
mother: Mary García Rivera
education: Anglo Colombian School
Virginia Vallejo García is a journalist, media and television personality, and socialite from Colombia. She is presently living in the United States of America as a political asylee. Having grown up in an affluent family, Vallejo was educated at the Anglo Colombian School and later began working as an English teacher in Bogotá. In 1963, she moved to the presidency of Banco del Comercio and married the CEO of CBS Security and Data, Zamorano and Giovanelli. After their divorce in 1971, Vallejo started working at Cervecería Andina. During her tenure there, she landed her first job on television. From 1978 to 1981, she was married to her second husband David Stivel. In 1981, she created her own program, ‘TV Impacto’. She also worked for Caracol Radio and directed her program ‘¡Al Ataque!’. Vallejo is the first journalist to ever interview the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. Conducted in January 1983, the interview took place in the midst of a passionate romance between the two that would last until 1987. In the ensuing years, she would appear on the covers of various magazines, and star in a television soap opera. In October 1994, Vallejo put an end to her media career to set up the South American division of a multilevel company based in the United States. She sought and was eventually granted political asylum by the United States government after she came forward to testify in the case against Alberto Santofimio. Vallejo currently resides in Miami, Florida and still is the object of public fascination, both in Colombia and the US.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on August 26, 1949, in Cartago, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, near her family’s ranch, Virginia Vallejo was the oldest of the four children of Juan Vallejo Jaramillo and Mary García Rivera. Her father was an entrepreneur. Her family was not only financially well-off, but was also politically powerful.
Her grandfather, Eduardo Vallejo Varela, was a minister of economy in the Colombian government from April 12, 1930 to 7 August. Her grandmother, Sofía Jaramillo Arango, could trace her family back to Alonso Jaramillo de Andrade Céspedes y Guzmán, a nobleman from Extremadura, Spain, who could trace his own lineage back to Emperor Charlemagne.
In 1950, Vallejo and her parents moved back to Bogotá, where the births of her younger siblings, brothers Felipe (1951) and Antonio (1955-2012), and sister Sofía (1957), occurred.
She began her education at the kindergarten run by President Carlos Lleras Restrepo’s sister, Elvira Lleras Restrepo. She then went on to study at the Anglo Colombian School, an institution with which she has a personal connection. It was co-founded by her great-uncle Jaime Jaramillo Arango, who was a professor of medicine and surgery, author, diplomat, and politician.
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Early Career & Marriages
Virginia Vallejo got her first job as an English teacher in 1967 in the Centro Colombo Americano in Bogotá. She worked there until the end of 1968. In 1969, she started teaching in the presidency of Banco del Comercio.
When Vallejo was 19 or 20 years old, she married for the first time. Her husband was Fernando Francisco, CEO of CBS Security and Data, Zamorano and Giovanelli. He was a widower and 25 years senior to Vallejo. The ceremony took place in a civil court in Venezuela. However, the marriage did not last beyond two years and they divorced in 1971.
By 1972, Vallejo was employed as the director of public relations of Cervecería Andina. It was during this period that she received the offer of a television program in which Carlos Lemos Simmonds and Aníbal Fernández de Soto served as directors.
She married her second husband, David Stivel, an Argentinean television, theatre and film director, and head of the Clan Stivel, in 1978. Stivel was living in Colombia at the time after he was exiled by the military junta of his native country. In 1981, she sought divorce from Stivel but the subsequent paperwork took two years to finish.
Relationship with Pablo Escobar
Virginia Vallejo interviewed drug lord and narco-terrorist Pablo Escobar in January 1983, and was the first journalist to have the dubious honour. Filmed at the Medellín garbage dump, the interview garnered criticism as people thought that it humanized Escobar who, during the interview, extensively talked about his charity project Medellín Sin Tugurios (Medellin without slums).
Prior to the interview, Escobar was a minor celebrity in his country. In 1982, despite being married at the time, he reportedly declared “I want her” after seeing Vallejo on television. They met later that year and eventually became lovers. Escobar already had a reputation for his ruthlessness and bloody lifestyle. However, he could be charming and had a sense of humour. These were the qualities Vallejo found herself attracted to.
As for Escobar, the relationship proved to be a useful one. The interview made him a national phenomenon. He became so popular that the newspapers started calling him “the Robin Hood of Medellín”. Whether Escobar had true feelings for Vallejo is a matter of debate. Many believed that he was simply using her to elevate himself to the national stage.
In 1987, Vallejo’s relationship with Escobar came to an end. Escobar’s son has claimed that his father cut all his ties with Vallejo after finding out that he was not her only lover. He recounted the last time he saw her. She was outside the gate of one of their estates, sobbing, while the guards of her erstwhile lover did not let her into the compound.
By the early 1990s. Escobar’s popularity and fame had considerably decreased. Vallejo did not fare any better. Escobar had a symbiotic relationship with the elites of his country. They would take his money and ignore all his illegal activities. These elites shunned her completely and she eventually vanished from the public spectre.
Dispute with Neways International
Virginia Vallejo joined Neways International in 1994 and within the first 18 months, made their Colombian and South America operations successful by setting up about 22,500 independent distributors. Three years later, she was hailed as the first Colombian independent distributor to receive the rank “Diamond.” However, in 1998, her contract with the company was cancelled by the owners, Thomas and Leslie DeeAnn Mower, and subsequently was given to their children.
Vallejo then filed a commercial lawsuit against Neways International. However, the case would go on for 14 years before the presiding judge closed it. The Mowers would be indicted in an unrelated case in 2003 and would be sentenced to 36 months in jail in March 2005.
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Political Asylee in the US
During her time with Escobar, Vallejo had witnessed his interactions with the Colombian elites. In July 2006, the former senator and justice minister Alberto Santofimio, who served as the link between Escobar and the Colombian ruling class, was being tried because of the conspiracy in the assassination of the presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán. Vallejo came forward and agreed to give her testimony to Attorney General Iguarán but the presiding judge and the Inspector General Maya Villazón immediately shut down the case.
Realizing the danger she was in, Vallejo reached out to the US embassy, asking for protection. In return, she promised that she would give them all the information she had on the Mower family and on the connection between the Cali cartel bosses and people in the Colombian government. She left Colombia for Miami in a special flight arranged by the DEA, arriving on July 18, 2006. She was eventually granted political asylum in the US on June 3, 2010.
Since 2006, Vallejo has testified in two major cases. In the reopened case of the Palace of Justice siege (November 6 & 7, 1985), which resulted in the death of more than 100 people, including 11 Supreme Court Justices, her testimony, provided in July 2008, implicated the military and President Belisario Betancur. In July 2009, she gave her testimony in the reopened case of the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán.
Vallejo published her memoir, ‘Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar’ (‘Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar’) in 2007 through Knopf Doubleday in the US and Canongate in the UK. The 2017 Spanish drama film ‘Loving Pablo’ was based on the book. Spanish actor Penelope Cruz portrayed her in the film. The role of Escobar was played by Javier Bardem. The film premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival.