Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas on Wednesday proposed to swap a Canadian captive for mining titles held by his employer, Braeval.
“A sign of its (Braeval’s) willingness to negotiate would be the return of the mining titles that it swindled from the traditional mining communities,” said a statement from the ELN, the South American country’s second-largest armed leftist group.
Jernoc Wobert, a 47-year-old geologist, was working for the Toronto, Canada-based company as vice president of exploration, when he was abducted from a mining camp on Jan. 18.
According to the guerrilla group, the titles were initially granted to the local mining communities, but were later sold to Braeval by corrupt politicians.
The ELN said it captured the Canadian to protest against the mining and energy policies of the Colombian government and its multinational partners, which are plundering the nation’s natural resources.
The ELN also warned Colombian authorities and Braeval against military action for the release of the hostage.
Five others kidnapped along with Wobert — three Colombians and two Peruvians — were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross a few weeks after their abduction.