A senior commander of Colombia’s largest rebel group ELN said Wednesday his organization will continue to kidnap foreigners in “defense of national sovereignty and natural resources.”
In an interview published on the group’s website, ELN commander “Antonio Garcia” said “the retention of foreign citizens fits within our policy to defend national sovereignty and natural resources.”
The rebel group has been holding Canadian miner Jernoc Wobert hostage since his kidnapping in the north of the country on January 18.
Braeval Mining Corporation, the employer of Wobert, “used deceit [and] snatched mining rights away from communities,” the ELN’s number two said.
Additionally, the senior rebel added that “you’d have to look whether the Canadian engineer had the proper documentation to work in Colombia. In that sense, our work is to defend the rights of communities, national heritage and our sovereignty.”
Garcia reiterated earlier statements his group would release their Canadian hostage once Braeval has surrenders their obtained mining titles to local communities.
Additionally, the senior rebel criticized the national government for not giving in to the rebels’ demands for the Canadian’s release.
“The Colombian government has unsuccessfully insisted in military pressure to seek the release of the Canadian, but has not moved a finger to make the multinational Braewal [sic] Mining Corporation return the mining titles to their rightful owners,” said Garcia.
The ELN released a video of a soldier who was captured in combat in the northeast of the country in May, but released no proof of life of Wobert.
In the video, the soldier — accompanied by two masked rebel fighters — claimed to be treated respectfully.