Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, on Tuesday announced the imminent release of a forestry engineer who was kidnapped 13 months ago in the north of the country.
The ELN said that Leon Andres Montes, 24, who was captured in the town of Amalfi, Antioquia while working for Chilean forestry company Compañia Agricola de la Sierra, was being released for humanitarian reasons.
In the release statement, ELN spokesperson “Dario Ramirez” said Montes was captured as a statement against the Chilean company’s destructive social and environmental practices, that according to the ELN, had taken over 100 parcels of land, planting non-native trees and displacing the farmers who had lived there.
The statement also spoke out against “neoliberal sell-out governments, particularly that of [President Juan Manuel] Santos, who guarantee profits for foreign capital in detriment to national sovereignty.”
Ramirez said they would release Montes as soon as Compañia Agricola de la Sierra established a receiving committee for the captured engineer.
The father of Montes expressed gratitude upon hearing news of his son’s imminent release: “There are no words to express what I feel, may God grant him freedom as soon as possible.”
Since shortly after the government started peace talks with Colombia’s largest-rebel group the FARC rebel group last year in Cuba, the ELN has been seeking an official peace process with the government.
- Eln anuncia liberación del ingeniero León Andrés Montes Ceballos (Caracol Radio)
- Comunicado a la Opinión Pública (ELN news release)