Engineer Oscar Valasquez and labour inspector Gonzalez Piernadora, along with their driver Orlando Mesa, were kidnapped on June 8, 2010, by ELN‘s Manual Hernandez “El Boche” Front.
The pair were working for a company contracted to pave two main roadways in the northern Colombian department of Choco. They were kidnapped, along with Mesa, on a road linking Choco and neighbouring department Risaralda.
Risaralda official Fabio Boterro Echeverry yesterday confirmed that Valasquez and Piernadora had been released at a health centre in Choco, but gave no further details on their physical condition. Mesa was released in a state of poor health in January this year, to delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Authorities in Risaralda confirmed that the kidnappings were motivated by ransom demands — one of the primary sources of financing for guerrilla groups such as the ELN and the FARC — as the men’s families were contacted with demands for money days after they were taken.
Their release occurs just days after thousands of people took to the streets worldwide to demand the release of hostages held by illegal armed groups, though turnout was lower than organizers had hoped.