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Luis Francisco Cuellar


Luis Francisco Cuellar Carvajal was a Colombian politician, serving as Mayor of Morelia, Governor of the Caqueta Department from 2008 to 2009, and Deputy of Caqueta from 2000 to 2003. He is known for being kidnapped and murdered by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and for being kidnapped and held for ransom four times.

Biography

Cuellar was born in Timana, Huila, Colombia on December 22, 1940. Prior to his political career, he worked as a cattle rancher. He married Imelda Galindo de Cuellar in 1968, and the couple stayed together until his death. Cuellar was a Roman Catholic.

Political career

Cuellar served as deputy of the department of Caqueta from 2000 to 2003, and governor from January 1, 2008, until his murder on December 22, 2009. He also served as the Mayor of Morelia from 1996 to 1998. In 1997, he related his experiences as a hostage and met relatives of hostages being held by FARC. He was a member in the Indigenous Social Alliance Movement and the Colombian People's Party. During his term as governor, he established the Cuellar Public Health Laboratory in Florencia. He also ordered a variety internationally made sports facilities for Caqueta schools.

Kidnappings

Cuellar was kidnapped and held for ransom four times by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) between 1987 and 1999:

1987

Cuellar was first kidnapped in 1987, when FARC rebels came to his farm and waited for him at the gate. He was released after the ransom was paid.

1990

In 1990, he was kidnapped along with his wife, but released after paying ransom. Two months later, his wife and brother, merchant Orlando Cuellar were kidnapped, but released days later.

1995

Cuellar was elected Mayor of Morelia in 1995, and was kidnapped while in office. He was kidnapped near the county seat of Morelia, along with his wife, her sister Agnes, and his driver. He spent seven months in captivity before being released after a ransom was paid.

1999

Cuellar was kidnapped near a church in 1999, but was released after a ransom was again paid to the FARC.

Death

Cuellar was kidnapped,by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, on December 21, 2009. His home in Florencia was raided by 8 to 10 gunmen, who killed a police guard and used explosives to blow open the front door of the building, wounding two other police guards. The gunmen then entered the building and seized Cuellar. Colombian authorities began a large-scale manhunt, deploying 2,000 soldiers and police officers into the jungle highlands surrounding Florencia to search for him. President Alvaro Uribe offered 1 billion pesos to anyone providing information leading to his safe return. On December 22, 2009, his body was recovered by security forces near Florencia, after local villagers led troops to it. The burnt pickup truck used by the gunmen was discovered by police with nine explosive charges. Cuellar's throat had been slit. Colombian authorities began an investigation into the murder, and offered 1 billion pesos for information leading to the killers.

Cuellar had previously been kidnapped and held for ransom multiple times since 1987. The Cuellar family claims to have been under threat prior to the kidnapping.

Although no group immediately claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, President Uribe blamed the FARC. The FARC later claimed responsibility, but claimed that they had not intended to execute him, but wanted to subject him to a "political trial" for what they claimed was corruption. President Uribe sharply criticized the FARC for these statements, and called them an attempt to justify Cuellar's murder. His wife, Imelda, stated that "He didn't deserve that. He was a very generous man; he loved to be with humble people", and added that she and her husband had spent 41 "wonderful" years together. Human rights organization Amnesty International also condemned the murder. In January 2010, Henry Lopez Sarmiento, the FARC commander suspected of masterminding Cuellar's kidnapping, was detained by Colombian authorities, and was charged with Abduction and Murder.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Luis Francisco Cuellar


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