A few days ago I wrote about the killing of Luis Carlos Galan, the 1980s Colombian presidential candidate.
In my piece I argued that before Colombia can fully move on from the drug violence of the 1980s, the unanswered question must be addressed: Who killed Galan?
I also suggested that the 'generally accepted' version of events surrounding his death does not hold water and that for closer analysis it was important to rewind to 1988, a year before Galan's killing.
One character, Jorge Salcedo, emerged as being key to discovering the truth about Galan's killing. Salcedo, the son of a Colombian army general, was central in organising an attack on the leaders of FARC.
Private foreign mercenaries were hired because the generals couldn't convince the political leaders to attack - diplomacy was considered a stronger weapon. Rather than disobey their elected leaders, the generals went behind their backs.
To cut a very, very, long story short, Salcedo (who has been on the US witness protection programme for years and lives under a new identity) has emerged after years of silence. Remarkably, he has now written a piece for for CNN.com headlined What I Saw Inside The Cali Drug Cartel.
In it he writes:
"I used to be Jorge Salcedo. I left my name in Colombia when I entered the U.S. witness protection program 16 years ago. I also left a home, a country, friends, family, even my past. But maybe my experience will help show the importance of fighting corruption as a way to fight the cartels.
My primary job in the Cali cartel was security for one of four godfathers, Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, the daily operations boss. Others were more directly involved in routine bribery, but I still managed to deliver nearly a million dollars in payoffs. And I witnessed many, many millions more.
The biggest bribe I ever handled personally was a half-million-dollar payoff to a Salvadoran air force colonel. I was buying four U.S.-made bombs -- 500-pounders -- that the bosses wanted to drop on Pablo Escobar. It was a very bad idea, but they sent me anyway. The cash was disguised as a birthday present, about the size of a large shoebox, wrapped in red paper with gold trim. I'd never seen so much money. I remember that it was surprisingly heavy."
It provides a brilliant piece of insight into his life.
While I'd hoped my blog had prompted him to write the piece, I'm told by Bill Rempel, author of At The Devil's Table - that this was planned well in advance.
Still, it opens the door to the possibility that one day Salcedo will reveal his thoughts on the murder of Luis Carlos Galan.
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