How Accurate Is Valeria Velez on ‘Narcos'? Virginia Vallejo's Name May Not Be The Only Thing That Changed
Netflix’s original series Narcos captivated fans with the incredible true story of the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. The series chronicles Escobar’s Medellín cocaine cartel and the American DEA agents working to put a stop to it. The idea of duality is prevalent on the show, as you see it in the two intertwining plots, two languages, and all of the characters who seem to lead dual lives. There is also a duality in the character of Valeria Velez, in that she is fictional, but also based on the very real Colombian journalist Virginia Vallejo. But how accurate is Valeria Velez on Narcos when compared to Vallejo's life?
While creative licenses have been taken with Vallejo’s involvement with the cartel on Narcos — how could anyone really know if she pulled the metaphorical trigger on Diana Turbay’s kidnapping? — there is still a lot that is true when looking at how Vallejo is portrayed via Valeria. Since Vallejo chronicled her real life association with Escobar in her book, “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar,” it's not too hard to separate fact from fiction. The Spanish language memoir was a best-seller and is slated to be released in English next year. It will also become a movie, with Variety reporting that Penelope Cruz has been cast to play Vallejo, opposite Javier Bardem as Escobar.
When reviewing Vallejo’s intriguing life and watching Stephanie Sigman’s portrayal of Velez on Narcos, fans have become curious about what how faithful the series stayed to her life. Here's how it all breaks down.
1. She Really Was Pablo’s Lover
This has been made clear with her published memoir.
2. She Really Was A Renowned Journalist
Vallejo was a well-known Colombian journalist, socialite, and celebrity — according to her website, she was even on the cover of the Spanish-language Cosmopolitan.
3. But People Knew About The Affair IRL
On the show, Valeria is constantly concerned that people are going to find out about her affair with Pablo Escobar. Perhaps Vallejo had the same concerns IRL, but it seems that people knew about their relationship. In a Houston Chronicle article, her friend and filmmaker Gustavo Nieto Roa, said the socialite was cutoff from society due to the affair.
Before, she would have a reception or a cocktail party and every important person in the city would attend. But after it became known she was his girlfriend, nobody wanted to be seen with her.
4. She Really Did Help Escobar Politically
After the news magazine Semana coined Escobar the "Robin Hood Paisa," Vallejo did help make Escobar popular among the people with her media connections, according to the book "Colombia's Narcotics Nightmare."
5. She Really Did See A Lot Of The Cartel's Dark Side
In fact, Vallejo was given political asylum in the United States in 2010, according to her website, after testifying against the cartel.
6. But Vallejo Was Not Escobar's Only Mistress IRL
On the Netflix series, it seems like Escobar only holds two deep romantic relationships, one with his wife and one with Velez. The show may allude to dalliances with other women, though they are not a real part of the series. However, according to Reuters, Escobar had another one of his ex-lovers murdered, as his chief assassin Jhon Jairo Velasquez, aka Popeye, was convicted of and admitted to multiple murders, including that of Escobar's former girlfriend.
Clearly, Vallejo has lived quite a life, from journalist, to socialite, to mistress, to expatriate, and more. I can't wait to see how things continue to unfold for Valeria Velez on Narcos and if they're as captivating as real life.
Image: Daniel Daza/Netflix