Luis Francisco Cuéllar

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This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Cuéllar and the second or maternal family name is Carvajal.
Luis Francisco Cuéllar Carvajal
Governor of Caquetá
In office
January 1, 2008 – December 22, 2009
Preceded by Olga Patricia Vega Cedeño
Succeeded by Olga Patricia Vega Cedeño
Deputy of Caqueta
In office
2000–2003
Mayor of Morelia
In office
1996–1998
Personal details
Born (1940-12-22)December 22, 1940
Timana, Huila
Died December 22, 2009(2009-12-22) (aged 69)
Caquetá
Nationality Colombian
Political party Indigenous Social Alliance Movement
Other political
affiliations
Colombian People's Party (2003)
Spouse(s) Imelda Galindo de Cuéllar
Children Luis Fernando Cuellar
Residence Florencia
Occupation Cattle rancher, politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Luis Francisco Cuéllar Carvajal (December 22, 1940 – December 22, 2009) was a Colombian politician, serving as Mayor of Morelia, Governor of the Caquetá Department from 2008 to 2009, and Deputy Governor 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[edit]

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 Cuéllar in 1968, and the couple stayed together until his death. Cuellar was a Roman Catholic.

Political career[edit]

Cuéllar served as deputy of the department of Caquetá 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.[1]

Kidnappings[edit]

Cuellar was kidnapped and held for ransom four times by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) between 1987 and 1999:[2]

1987[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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. They spent seven months in captivity before being released after a ransom was paid.

1999[edit]

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

Death[edit]

Cuéllar was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia,[3] on December 21, 2009.[4] The Cuéllar family claims to have been under threat prior to the kidnapping. 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 Cuéllar. 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 Álvaro Uribe offered 1 billion pesos (approximately 340,000, US$490,000) to anyone providing information leading to his safe return.[4] On December 22, 2009, his body was recovered by security forces near Florencia,[5] after local villagers led troops to it. The burnt pickup truck used by the gunmen was discovered by police with nine explosive charges. Cuéllar's throat had been slit.[6] Colombian authorities began an investigation into the murder, and offered 1 billion pesos for information leading to the killers.

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.[7] 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.[8]

References[edit]