.- The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, said that in the wake of the death of FARC leader “Tirofijo” and the naming of Alfonso Cano as the rebel movement’s new leader, “We wish to speak face to face with him about the humanitarian accord. That is my desire and my hope.”
In an interview with the magazine Cambio, the archbishop said that while an immediate dialogue with the new FARC leader would not be possible, he was hopeful that “with the arrival of new people, their way of doing things would change and the guerrilla movement would sensibly accept that dialogue is the only option that remains.”
Archbishop Castro said that Cano “has more political sense, a good college education and knows the country’s problems” and that therefore he hopes that he realizes that “dialogue is the best solution.”
“The FARC is at a difficult moment, but it has a great opportunity with the new leader,” he said. “I believe that the day will come when the soldiers will be moved to the backburner and those who have greater political intuition, capacity and willingness to engage in dialogue will come to the forefront. I have a feeling this is happening. There is a new spokesman and this opens possibilities for finding new paths for dialogue,” the archbishop said.
Regarding the support the FARC receives from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Archbishop Castro noted that there is “undoubtedly support” and that “the response of the FARC has been generous in handing over hostages.” However, he went on, “I don’t see the same response from Ecuador. The FARC should take this into account in order to begin to negotiate because they are being left alone.”
In recent months, the FARC has suffered the death of some its top leaders, including Tomas Medina, Martin Caballero, Raul Reyes and FARC founder, Fabian Marulanda, known as “Tirofijo.”