The ELN, or National Liberation Army, is Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group. (Image: Image: Youtube)
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Colombia’s ELN Releases Dutch Hostage

February 12, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Colombian guerrilla group the ELN has freed a Dutch hostage that had been held in captivity since Jan. 2014. News of the Dutch man’s release comes hours after reports that the ELN abducted two people in Colombia’s Choco province, and one day after the group announced that it is holding a local elected official in captivity, signs that the ELN is maintaining an aggressive posture despite reports that it is preparing to launch peace talks with the government.

The name of the Dutch citizen released by the ELN, or National Liberation Army, and the details of his kidnapping over a year ago, have not yet been divulged, although he is reported to be 52 years old. Dutch media reported that Dutch officials took part in the hostage negotiations. Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that the Latin American country’s police force was unaware of the man’s hostage status.

Earlier on Wednesday, sources connected to the police reported that two people were kidnapped by ELN members in a back road between the Choco and Risaralda provinces. According to the partner of one of the kidnapped men, the guerrilla group has demanded a ransom worth roughly $20,000 for each hostage.

On Tuesday, the ELN announced that it is currently holding local politician Alto Baudo Mayor Fredys Palacios — who had been missing since Dec. 16 — hostage.

The ELN is Colombia’s second most powerful guerrilla group, after the FARC. The group expressed its willingness to engage in peace talks with the Colombian government in January, after President Juan Manuel Santos encouraged the ELN to follow the FARC’s example.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The son of former Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas-Guillén has plead guilty to attempting to smuggle ammunition from the United States to Mexico, U.S. federal officials announced Wednesday, in a case highlighting the thousands of arms smuggled across the border annually.
  • Mexicans living in the United States are praising a Mexican government initiative that has streamlined the process for obtaining a birth certificate at Mexican consulates across the United States, which in turn allows undocumented migrants to access a variety of essential U.S. services.

Caribbean

  • Puerto Rico has announced a new 16 percent value-added tax in an effort to dig the island out of a deep economic recession, which is coupled with a staggering public debt of around $73 billion.
  • A Haitian court has reinstated the national Senate leader, a month after he was dismissed along with the rest of the legislature when their terms expired, resulting in a political crisis that has only worsened the prospect of resolving Haiti’s economic woes.
  • In an effort to attract U.S. tourists to Haiti for vacations, the country’s tourism ministry has announced its first TV advertising campaign in the United States.

Central America

  • El Salvador will investigate whether 54 of its own nationals hid some $54 million with HSBC, following revelations that the Swiss Bank helped corrupt officials and criminals worldwide conceal their earnings.
  • Costa Rican authorities raided sites on Tuesday associated with a large arms trafficking ring that allegedly supplied Mexico, Panama and Colombia with weapons legally imported for the use of a private security firm, an operation that highlights Costa Rica’s growing crime rate despite its reputation as a relative safe haven among its Central American neighbors.

Andes

  • Venezuelan authorities have arrested a judge just a day after he issued a sentence in a major drug trafficking case, which prosecutors say was lenient enough to warrant charges of favoritism, a crime.
  • Violence erupted between police and protesters of oil and gas exploration in the Peruvian Amazon town of Pichanaki, resulting in at least one death and 22 injuries.

Southern Cone

  • Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is facing questions over claims her daughter-in-law’s company got privileged access to a $10 million loan from Banco de Chile while Bachelet was campaigning in 2013, echoing a similar controversy in Mexico.
  • As a crisis unfolds surrounding a kickback scandal at Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras, three workers are dead and six missing following a rig explosion Wednesday, a reminder that the firm’s operations, and the attendant risks, continue despite an ongoing investigation.

Image: Youtube

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