.- The president of the Bishopsâ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, has strongly and categorically dismissed any link between the slain Archbishop of Cali, Isaias Duarte Cancino, and the paramilitary chief Carlos Castano, despite claims to the contrary by another member of the rebel paramilitary.
Archbishop Salazar Gomez told reporters the statements by paramilitary soldier Ever Veloza constitute âan absolute calumny. We were classmates, and since 1972 I was aware of the courage and moral integrity of Archbishop Duarte Cancino. He was incapable of supporting crime.â
The Archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, said there was âno basisâ for claiming that Archbishop Duarte Cancino was a personal advisor to Carlos Castana, the paramilitary chief who was killed in 2004.
The statement by Archbishop Salazar Gomez noted that Archbishop Duarte Cancino, âknown for his strong pronouncements against guerillas, paramilitary groups and drug traffickers, was shot to death on March 16, 2002, in Cali. Several gunmen fired at him outside the Church of the Good Shepherd as he was leaving a ceremony blessing numerous marriages.