On Feb. 15, 1966, the government announced that Father Camilo Torres had been killed in an encounter with Colombian troops. The wars went on; Camilo became the revolution’s holy mascot.
At the time, we who were covering the story wondered: How long would these ”wars” between the disaffected, nihilistic young and the wealthy landowners and priests who ran Colombia actually last? Five years? Ten? Maybe even — God forbid — 15?
In fact, these wars have lasted 52 years, with 220,000 dead on both sides, and with the 6,800 or so Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known always as FARC, ruling over 18,000 peasants. In the isolated valleys and rivers of that mountainous land, they were using the peasants in part as a workforce for coca, and thus cocaine, production.