ELN guerrillas release forestry engineer hostage after 16 months

León Andrés Montes

Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, on Sunday released a forestry engineer who was kidnapped 16 months ago in the north of the country.

Leon Andres Montes was released to the Red Cross after being captured in July 2012 in the town of Amalfi, Antioquia while working for Chilean forestry company Compañia Agricola de la Sierra.

MORE: ELN announces imminent release of kidnapped forest engineer

ELN spokesperson “Dario Ramirez” had previously said Montes was captured as a statement against the Chilean company’s destructive social and environmental practices. The ELN alleged the company had taken over 100 parcels of land, planting non-native trees and displacing the farmers who had lived there.

Speaking to Caracol Radio, the parents of Montes, 24, said that the release of their son served to advance a genuine dialogue between the national government and the ELN.

“It will be an opportunity for us and for the country, I hope it’s the beginning of a better world, not only for our family, but for Colombia,” said Montes’ mother, Isabel Ceballos.

The ELN has been seeking an official peace process with the government since the peace talks with Colombia’s largest-rebel group the FARC rebel group began last year in Cuba.

MORE: Peace team is ‘formed and ready,’ waiting for Colombia govt: ELN

Amalfi, Antioquia


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