Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas have released the father of Liverpool soccer player Luis Diaz, who was taken hostage almost two weeks ago, according to the government. The kidnapping of Luis Manuel Diaz has disrupted the government’s peace talks with the ELN, which resumed last year with the aim of ending the group’s involvement in Colombia’s 60-year conflict, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 450,000 people. The two sides initiated a six-month ceasefire in August. The elder Luis Diaz was abducted on October 28 in Barrancas, a rural municipality in the northern province of La Guajira.
After arriving at his home, the soccer star’s father expressed his gratitude to the people of Barrancas, La Guajira, and Colombia for their tremendous support. Luis Diaz, who has remained in England and continued to play for Liverpool, publicly expressed his distress over the crime by wearing an undershirt with “Libertad Para Papa” (Freedom For Dad) written on it during Liverpool’s Premier League match at Luton Town on Sunday. He scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw. Diaz was also included in the starting lineup for Liverpool’s 3-2 Europa League loss at Toulouse in France on Thursday, but he was substituted nine minutes before the end without making a significant impact. Liverpool released a statement on social media platform X, expressing their delight at the news of Luis Diaz’s father’s safe return and thanking everyone involved in securing his release.
The government’s negotiating delegation at the peace talks with the ELN celebrated Diaz’s release but emphasized that the kidnapping should never have occurred. In a statement, the delegation stated that the kidnapping had placed their dialogue in a critical situation and called for decisive action to eliminate kidnapping. The statement also demanded the release of all individuals held by the ELN, which amounts to approximately 30 people according to official sources. Delegates from the Catholic Church and the United Nations have been working to secure the release of hostages. Historically, guerrilla groups in Colombia have used kidnapping as a means of fundraising and exerting pressure.
The ELN, which had previously announced Diaz’s release, acknowledged that the kidnapping was a mistake. However, the release was delayed as the rebels claimed that military operations were hindering the process, a claim denied by the army. The ELN stated on Thursday, via X, that they remain committed to seeking change and peace. Diaz was abducted alongside his wife Cilenis Marulanda, who was freed within hours.
The discussions with the ELN represent the most advanced stage of the government’s negotiations with various armed groups. In September, RushHourDaily reported exclusively that Colombian security sources anticipate that at least 40% of ELN fighters could reject a potential peace deal and continue to bear arms. The fragmented command structure of the ELN has long been a concern for analysts and critics of the talks, who have warned that the group’s most radical units are unlikely to adhere to any agreement.
In conclusion, the release of Luis Diaz’s father by the ELN is a significant development in Colombia’s peace process. The government and the ELN must now address the critical situation caused by the kidnapping and take decisive action to eliminate this practice. The release of all hostages held by the ELN is essential, and the involvement of the Catholic Church and the United Nations in securing their freedom is crucial. The discussions with the ELN represent the most advanced stage of the government’s negotiations, but the fragmented command structure of the group poses challenges to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org