Since we first arrived in Medellin and started working with our journalist friend Oscar, Casey and I have been meeting the family of Leon Andres Montes. Leon, 32 years old, spent the last 16 months in captivity of the ELN, one of Colombia’s guerrilla groups. He had been the employee of a Chilean company doing reforestation work, and the ELN demanded the company pay a large ransom, and then that they leave the country. The company did neither. Meanwhile, Leon spent the time alone with only a radio, hidden away by his captors in the forests of Colombia, and his parents worked with the media to get the story out and their son home. Finally, on December 1st, Leon was liberated. Here’s a link to a news story (in Spanish) with a good picture.
Today, Casey and I got to have lunch with Leon and his parents. They are wonderful people, and hearing their stories was powerful. Before the conversation even started, while I was walking with Leon’s father, and talking to him about the liberation, I teared up. It was only a few weeks ago that he, one of his other sons, and Casey and I had seen each other. Although the release was pending at that time, nothing was certain. Today he was joyful.
These kinds of experiences – including many of the interviews we do with people in the campo – are part of what makes our work here so incredible.