President Juan Manuel Santos warned Thursday that any foreign company that pays a ransom to terrorist groups for kidnapped employees will not be allowed to do business in Colombia.
Speaking in the department of Meta, Santos said, “I want to make a very clear warning: A company that pays a single peso to one those bandits [that operate in Colombia] will leave the country.”
The head of state was speaking in reference to reports that emerged Thursday that the Canadian oil company Talisman operating in the eastern department of Vichada had received demands for money prior to the kidnapping of 23 oil workers on Monday by an alleged FARC front.
The 23 men were not direct employees of Talisman but rather a firm that was subcontracted by the organization.
However, head of the armed forces Admiral Edgar Cely Nuñez confirmed that representatives from Talisman had confirmed to him that they have not been nor would be willing to pay a ransom for the freedom of workers.
Twenty-one of the 23 were liberated Tuesday after one had apparently escaped during the night and given the army details of the location where the others were being held.
However, later on Tuesday one of the kidnapped men claimed that the army had no involvement in their release and they were instead inexplicably freed by their captors.
One man remains hostage. Army efforts to secure his release over recent days have been hampered by bad weather in the area.
The news follows reports Wednesday that Chiquita fruit company is facing fresh legal action from the family of a man killed by the FARC, who say that the multi-national company provided support to the rebel group.