Father of Colombian footballer Luis Diaz He was released on Thursday after spending 13 days kidnapped by National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels. The news was conveyed by President Gustavo Petro, who celebrated on his social networks: “Long live freedom and peace.”
Luis Manuel Díaz Jiménez, father of the Liverpool FC and Colombian national team player, He was received by the United Nations mission and the Catholic Church near Serrania del PerejaIt is a difficult-to-reach mountainous complex on the border with Venezuela, where he received primary medical care.
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De la Serranía was flown by helicopter with registration number HK-4160 to Valledupar Airport, the capital of Cesar department, 90 kilometers from Barrancas, his hometown, in the northeast of the country, where he was kidnapped in October. 28 with his wife Selenis Marulanda at a service station, by armed men riding motorcycles.
Marulanda was rescued hours later after authorities closed roads leading to the area, but her husband remained under the command of his kidnappers.
The kidnapping of Díaz Jiménez, who is very popular in his city for leading a football school, created tension at the dialogue table with the ELN and caused the government to demand “substantive decisions” on this practice, which it has maintained for decades within the framework of the armed conflict.
When confirming his release, the government peace delegation noted in a statement, “Our delegation considers that the kidnapping of Luis Manuel Díaz has put our dialogue in a critical situation, and therefore the time has come to take decisions to cancel the kidnapping.”
Diaz’s release came days after his son’s release He will feature a T-shirt with the words “Freedom for the Father” on it. After scoring a goal for Liverpool in a match against Luton in the English Premier League.
The kidnapping of his parents sparked international solidarity and also in his hometown of Barrancas, a town with a population of about 40,000, where dozens of people called for his release, holding banners and white balloons.
Authorities focused their searches in Serranía del Pereja, a mountainous, inaccessible area where the ELN and other criminal groups are often present due to its strategic location on the border with Venezuela.
but, On Monday, the forces changed their positions to move away and facilitate the release of the player’s father. After the rebels justified the delay in their release by military operations in the region, warning that they would expose Diaz to danger.
Antonio Garcia, the rebels’ top commander, described keeping the fighters on as a “mistake.” Díaz’s father, because he is a “symbol of Colombia”, he said on Saturday in a conversation in which the press participated.
Diaz is one of the main references for the national team. Liverpool signed him in early 2022 after paying $67 million to Porto.