The National Liberation Army – the Colombian guerrilla group known by its acronym ELN – said military operations “don’t allow” the release of footballer Luis Díaz’s father, Luis Manuel Díaz, kidnapped since October 28.
In a statement released Monday, the guerrilla group said it will comply with his release, but they are trying “to avoid incidents with official forces” referring to the presence of military troops in an undisclosed area.
Luis Manuel Díaz was kidnapped in the small town of Barrancas, department of La Guajira, in northern Colombia.
Without specifying an exact location, the guerrilla group said the “area” where they operate remains militarized with military planes flying over the area and troops on the ground.
“This scenario does not allow carrying out the release plan quickly and safely, where there is no risk for Mr. Luis Manuel Díaz”, the statement said.
Later on Monday, Colombia’s military officials said its troops, part of the search operation, were “ordered to reposition themselves” to provide guarantees for Díaz’s release.
The player’s father was kidnapped along with his wife, Cilenis Marulanda, while driving in Barrancas. After pressure from authorities, only Marulanda was released.
On Sunday, after scoring for Liverpool in the Premier League, the player pulled up his jersey to show a “freedom for dad” message written on a undershirt.
He later took to the social platform “X,” formerly Twitter, to say: “This goal is for my father’s freedom and all the kidnapped in my country.”
The kidnapping has sparked several marches in Colombia demanding the release of Diaz’s father.
Meanwhile, Diaz’s international teammate James Rodríguez has offered his support on social media.
“We’re with you @LuisFDiaz19 in these difficult moments,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter. “We ask for respect and solidarity … Freedom for your dad and all captured people!”
Liverpool forward Diaz is one of the most prominent players on the Colombian national soccer team.
Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office , the Catholic Church and the International Red Cross have offered to serve as guarantors for Luis Manuel Díaz’s release.
The ELN is one of the oldest and largest guerrilla groups still operating in the country.
In June of 2023, the group and the Colombian Government agreed to implement a bilateral, six-month ceasefire starting on August 3 for peace talks to take place.