.- The late Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino of Cali, Colombia, died as a result of an unusual conspiracy between drug lords, Marxist rebels, and paramilitary groups. That was the revelation made this week by Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz of Monteria, who said he received the information directly - outside the seal of confession - from the assassinated paramilitary leader Carlos Castano Gil, just after the killing of the archbishop.
Archbishop Duarte Cancino, who was gunned down on March 19, 2002, was known for his passionate pastoral approach to reconciliation in the region. However, he never shied away from denouncing corruption and drug trafficking, which he always referred to as “a cancer.” The archbishop’s denunciation of such activities continued despite constant death threats from the different rebel groups financed by drug lords and from the drug traffickers themselves.
One month after the crime, Carlos Castano, leader of the “Self-Defense” forces - currently involved in a complex process of demilitarization - posted a statement on the website of his organization saying the perpetrators of the assassination of Archbishop Duarte Cancino were leaders of the Marxist rebel group “Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).” The hit, Castano said, was especially desired by the leader known as “Pablo Catatumbo,” one of the most sinister figures of the Colombian guerrilla movements, and “of a drug trafficking group that protects corrupt politicians.”
Nevertheless, according to Bishop Vidal Ortiz, Castano himself admitted that elements of his own organization, which is a rival of the FARC, also participated in the conspiracy.
In statements to local reporters, the bishop took the opportunity to denounce the nature of the armed conflict in Colombia, “in which Marxist ideologies and their archrivals join together to defend their business, that of cocaine.”