The rebel group holding Luis Diaz’s dad captive want assurances from the government before he’s released.
It last week emerged that the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN) were behind the abduction of Diaz Sr and his wife Clienis Marulanda. She was found hours later without her husband.
The leftist insurgency group claimed they were unaware one of their units had pulled off the kidnapping and vowed to let him go. But in a statement issued on Monday (November 6), they told the government they want “security guarantees” first.
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Signed by unit leader Commander Jose Manuel Martinez Quiroz, it read: “On November 2, we informed the country of the decision to release Mr. Luis Manuel Diaz, father of the player Luis Diaz. From that date, we began the process to accomplish this as soon as possible. We are making efforts to avoid incidents with government forces.
“The area is still militarised, they are carrying out flyovers, disembarking troops, broadcasting and offering rewards as part of an intense search operation. This situation is not allowing for the execution of the release plan quickly and safely, where Mr. Luis Manuel Diaz is not at risk.
“If operations continue in the area, they will delay the release and increase the risks. We understand the anguish of the Diaz-Marulanda family, to whom we say that we will keep our word to release him unilaterally, as soon as we have security guarantees for the development of the liberation operation.”
The ELN, a terrorist group formed in 1964 after the conclusion of the Colombian civil war, have been engaged in on-off peace talks with the government since 2018. They agreed a truce in July and there’s been a ceasefire since August.
Diaz, who unveiled a message reading “freedom for papa” after scoring Liverpool’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Luton on Sunday, issued a statement of his own post-match calling for his dad’s safe release.
He said: “Today the footballer is not talking to you, today Lucho Diaz, the son of Luis Manuel Diaz, is talking to you. Manuel, my dad, is a tireless worker, our pillar in the family and he is kidnapped.
“I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and I ask international organisations to intervene for his freedom. Every second, every minute our anguish grows. 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 get him back home. I ask you to release him immediately, respecting his integrity and ending this as soon as possible. In the name of love and compassion, we ask that you reconsider your actions and allow us to take him back.
“I thank Colombians and the international community for the support received. Thank you for so many expressions of affection and solidarity in this difficult time that we, and many families, in my country are experiencing.”