A Colombian bishop renowned for his attempts to negotiate with drug traffickers and armed groups has left the department of Cordoba and assumed his new role as head of the diocese of the city of Cucuta.
He recently claimed his contacts in the groups had indicated 5,000 members were willing to turn themselves in to the authorities under the right conditions.
The move pitted him against the government policy of treating the groups as common criminals and not openly negotiating with the what they refer to as “Bacrim” – criminal gangs.
Shortly after his latest plea for negotiations, the church announced he was to leave the violence ravaged region of Cordoba for the city of Cucuta in the department of Norte de Santander, far removed from the armed group’s areas of operation.
Vidal was also active in negotiating the heavily criticized demobilization of the AUC in 2006.