Luis Díaz’s kidnapped father is released in Colombia | ET REALITY

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The father of Luis Díaz, Colombian soccer star of the English club Liverpool, was released Thursday after he was kidnapped by a guerrilla group, Colombian officials said.

“We report with joy the release of Don Luis Manuel Díaz”, commission for peace dialogue of the Colombian government said in a statement on Thursday morning. “We hope that he will soon regain his peace, disturbed by an act that should never have happened.”

It was not immediately clear what, if anything, was traded for the elder Mr. Díaz’s freedom.

A helicopter with a handful of representatives a local catholic church and a United Nations mission in Colombia, together with a doctor, picked up Mr. Díaz, 56, in a rural area of ​​Barrancas, which is in La Guajira, a region in northern Colombia, and took him to some 55 miles southeast of the city. from Valledupar, government and rescue officials said.

“He was obviously excited to be reunited with his family,” Carlos Ruiz Massieu, special representative of the UN Secretary General in Colombia, told the New York Times. “He needs a deeper medical analysis after a situation like this, but overall he looked good.”

Díaz’s parents were kidnapped on October 28 by armed men at a gas station in their hometown, Barrancas. Her mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was rescued hours later, but her husband, Luis Manuel Díaz, remained captive.

Colombian national police and the army moved to find Mr Díaz amid fears that kidnappers had taken him from Barrancas across the border into Venezuela.

Five days later, the National Liberation Army, a guerrilla group, took responsibility for the kidnapping. The group, known as ELN, is the largest remaining rebel group in Colombia’s 60-year internal conflict and operates in the countryside.

In an advertisement published by local news mediaJosé Manuel Martínez Quiroz, who was identified as the commander of the ELN’s northern front, said the group had commandos with “economic missions and one of them” took the elder Mr. Díaz, known as Mane. But he said that he would be released because he was related to “a great athlete that all Colombians love.”

Although kidnappings for ransom and extortion in Colombia have resurfaced in recent years after a lull, the ELN’s initial statement made no demand in exchange for Mr. Díaz’s release.

Three days later, the ELN blamed the Colombian military for the delay. In a declarationThe group said Sunday that it was trying to avoid incidents with Colombian authorities, but that the area remained militarized with overpasses and troop arrivals.

The situation, he stated, “does not allow the execution of the release plan quickly and safely.”

The next day, the military announced that he was leaving the region where Mr. Díaz was believed to be detained. But when he had not yet been released on Tuesday, Otty Patiño, Colombia’s main negotiator in peace talks with the ELN, told reporters that “there was no excuse” for the delay. He said the guerrilla group had been in contact with the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church.

The kidnapping captured the attention of a country of nearly 52 million people not only because soccer is the most popular sport there, but also because it fueled concerns about growing insecurity and whether the government was doing enough to stop it. In public pleas and marches in Díaz’s hometown, Colombians called for the release of his father.

The Colombian government, under President Gustavo Petro, had been negotiating a peace treaty with the ELN, and a six-month ceasefire would begin in August. But after the elder Mr. Díaz was kidnapped, Mr. Petro said that the ELN had committed an act that “goes against the peace process itself.”

After Díaz was released, the Colombian peace commission negotiating with the ELN said the recent kidnapping had “plunged our talks into a critical situation” and called for all other captives to be released immediately.

The ELN’s top commander, Eliécer Herlinto Chamorro, known by his nom de guerre, Antonio García, said last week in a statement, according to local reportsthat the kidnapping of the eldest Díaz had been “a mistake” and called his 26-year-old son a symbol for Colombia.

The young Díaz, known as Lucho, has shone for his country’s national team. He went from playing for his local indigenous team to bigger clubs in Colombia and finally landed in Liverpool with a contract worth more than $60 million. Mr. Díaz’s father was a talented amateur player in Barrancas and coached his son.

The Liverpool player missed the first game after his father’s kidnapping, but returned to action on Sunday. After scoring a late goal that tied the game 1-1 against Luton, he lifted his shirt to reveal a shirt that read, “Free Dad” in Spanish.

After the match, he called for his father’s release.

“Every second, every minute, our anguish grows” wrote in a statement. “My mother, my brothers and I are desperate, distressed and without words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we have him back home.”

On Thursday, Díaz received his wish.

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