In the proverbial happy ending, two Spaniards who were taken hostage by a guerrilla group in Colombia on May 17th have finally been freed and are planning a wedding.
The couple, Ángel Sánchez and María Concepción Marlaska, were taken hostage May 17th and were held in a remote area of Colombia's La Guajira province near the border with Venezuela.
A specialist anti-kidnapping unit finally freed the couple in a raid.
At first the couple preferred not to make any public comments on their experience, but changed their minds on Sunday, when they held a press conference in the Spanish embassy in Bogota, according to El Periodico.
Now the story of two Spaniards enduring a month-long kidnap ordeal looks set to have a happy ending when their press conference turned into a public marriage proposal.
49-year-old Sánchez used the press conference to take the opportunity to propose to his partner of seven years, 43-year-old Marlaska:
"I'm going to do something I thought I would not ever do, at least under these circumstances, which is to ask for your hand in marriage," he said. "I hope you don't say no."
"Will you be my wife? Will you marry me?" he asked.
And to his delight, Marlaska's reply was an emphatic: "Yes."
The couple then continued to detail their traumatic experience, but explained that they are both "very well."
According to Marlaska, the experience brought them closer together because "it is essential to become a team to stay strong." She said that throughout their period of captivity they had given each other mutual support to keep their spirits up.
A visibly emotional Sánchez declared: "I want to say something very important, in public." "I am only alive thanks to her."
He added: "I want the whole world to know, because otherwise I would have gone crazy."
The newly engaged couple, who are from Avilés in the northern region of Asturias, then told the media that they were eager to return to normal daily life on their return to Spain on Monday.
A fairytale ending indeed to a horrible ordeal.
Background: In May, it was reported by Spain's foreign ministry that the couple, who were tourists in Colombia, had been kidnapped by a group claiming to be part of the country’s notorious armed group FARC.
Their luggage was left at a hotel in the Guajira region, which is an area renowned for its heavy paramilitary and drug trafficker presence and their car was found with a broken window at a ranch about 85 kilometers outside of the town of Uribia.
While it remains unclear whether the captors were actually part of Colombia’s main “terrorist” group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the abductors asked the victims' families for a ransom the day after the kidnapping. Reportedly, Marlaska is a relative of high-profile judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
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