Luis Diaz’s father expected to be released TODAY after humanitarian groups ‘move to meet ELN guerrilla fighters at the Colombia-Venezuela border after the group established contact in bid to hand him over’
- Luis Manuel Diaz’s kidnappers reportedly made contact to negotiate release
- Liverpool star’s father was abducted by left-wing guerrilla group on October 28
- Liverpool’s Luis Diaz is extraordinary – Listen here to It’s All Kicking Off
Luis Diaz’s father could reportedly be released today after his kidnappers contacted humanitarian organisations to begin the handover process.
Luis Manuel Diaz was abducted at gunpoint along with his wife on October 28 by the Colombian left-wing guerrilla group Ejercito de Liberation Nacional (ELN).
Reports by Noticias Caracol on Wednesday said the ELN made contact with representatives of organisations including the United Nations and the Catholic Church to set the conditions for his release.
The UN and the Church have been working in conjunction with the Colombian government to negotiate Diaz’s freedom.
The news outlet said the release would take place in the La Guajira area, close to the Colombian-Venezuelan border.
Luis Manuel Diaz, the father of Liverpool forward Luis Diaz, could reportedly be released on Wednesday after his captors contacted humanitarian organisations
Luis Manuel (right) has been missing since October 28 when he was abducted by gunmen from the Colombian left-wing guerrilla group Ejercito de Liberation Nacional (ELN)
The National Liberation Army – abbreviated as ELN in Spanish – is a leftist anti-government group made up of over 2,000 fighters and militants based in the Colombian countryside
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The ELN announced their intention to free Luis Manuel Diaz, describing the kidnapping as a ‘mistake’, but have demanded the withdrawal of military personnel who have led the search for the Liverpool star’s father from the area first.
On Monday, Colombian news outlet Semana had reported that police had begun ‘preparations for the release’ of Mr Diaz after he had been held by the guerrilla group for over a week.
Members of the police and other special forces had been searching for the Liverpool star’s father since October 28.
His father and mother, Cilenis Marulanda, were, according to local reports, abducted from the town of Barrancas in La Guajira, Colombia by the group, before the ELN, who are considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union, fled the scene.
On Sunday October 30, it emerged that Diaz’s mother had been rescued after she was left in a car by the guerrilla group, with members of the ELN keeping his father as a captive.
His mother made her first appearance since the kidnapping earlier this week, demanding that the abductors release her partner safely before leading hundreds on a march in their home town.
Reports from Semana on Friday had claimed that Diaz’s father would be freed that day, but his release did not materialise.
The Liverpool star’s mother (above in 2019, left centre) has been rescued after the pair were snatched off the streets of Colombia last week, but his father’s whereabouts are still unknown
Diaz lifted up his Liverpool shirt yesterday, in his first game since the kidnapping, to release a message that said in Spanish: ‘Freedom for Papa’
Diaz came off the bench to salvage a 1-1 draw for Liverpool in stoppage time against Luton
The guerrilla group holding Luis Diaz’s father have vowed to ‘keep their word’ by freeing him
Juan Carlos Cuellar, a representative of the group, stated in a community meeting that Diaz senior would be ‘released as soon as possible’.
Diaz was informed of his parents’ kidnapping on eve of Liverpool’s Premier League fixture against Nottingham Forest on October 30.
The forward didn’t participate in that game or the Reds’ 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup the following Wednesday.
But Diaz had returned to training and then came off the bench to score a 95th-minute equaliser against Luton Town on Sunday.
After scoring, the Colombian forward issued an emotional plea asking for the release of his father.
He revealed a T-shirt underneath his Liverpool jersey that had the message ‘freedom for papa’ written on it.
Colombian police have been searching for Diaz’s father who was seized at gunpoint last month
His manager and Luton captain Tom Lockyer both embraced the forward at full time, before Diaz issued a statement on social media on the same evening.
He wrote: ‘This is not Luis Diaz the player speaking. Today I am the son of Luis Manuel Diaz. My dad hard-working family man.
‘I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and I ask international organisations to work together 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 have him back home.
‘I beg you to release him immediately, respecting his integrity and ending this painful wait as soon as possible.
‘In the name of love and compassion, we ask that you reconsider your actions and allow us to recover him.
Diaz’s mother Cilenis Marulanda (centre) led a community march demanding the release of her husband, Luis Manuel Diaz, on Tuesday
Hundreds of members of the local community joined forces dressed in white holding balloons
‘I thank Colombians and the international community for the support received, thank you for so many demonstrations of affection and solidarity in this difficult time that many families in my country find themselves living.’
On Monday, it was reported that the group had vowed ‘to keep their word’ and release his father as soon as ‘security guarantees’ were in place.
In a statement, which was signed by the guerrilla group’s commander Jose Manuel Martinez Quiroz, the ELN said: ‘On November 2, we informed the country of the decision to release Mr. Luis Manuel Díaz, father of the player Luis Díaz.
‘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 Díaz is not at risk. If operations continue in the area, they will delay the release and increase the risks.
Military personnel have been on the ground in Barrancas to speed up his release
The head of the rebel group identified as having taken him released a statement on his capture
The community in Diaz’s hometown of Barrancas has rallied around the family and held a number of marches demanding Diaz Snr’s release
Diaz is a national hero in his home country – and even the kidnappers have referred to him by his affectionate nickname ‘Lucho’
‘We understand the anguish of the Díaz 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.’
It was confirmed by the Colombian authorities on Thursday last week that the ELN were behind the abduction, with leader of the Colombian government’s Peace Delegation, Otty Patino, stating: ‘Today we have had official knowledge that the kidnapping was perpetrated by a unit belonging to the ELN.
‘To the ELN, we demand the immediate release of Mr Luis Manuel Diaz and we remind them that it is their responsibility to guarantee his life and integrity.
‘We remind the ELN that kidnapping is a criminal practice, in violation of International Humanitarian Law.’
The organisation, is a leftist anti-government group that has over 2,000 militants based in the countryside of Colombia.
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