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Manuel Pérez Martínez (May 9, 1943 – February 14, 1998), also known as "El Cura Pérez" ("Pérez the Priest"), was leader of the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) over three decades. The ELN was the second-largest rebel group in Colombia at that time.[1]

Born on May 9, 1943 in Alfamén, Spain, Pérez was originally a priest, and worked in Spain, France, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Following his defrocking and expulsion from the Dominican Republic in 1968, he went to Colombia and joined the ELN in 1969. He became that group's leader some time in the 1970s and remained so until his death in 1998 from hepatitis B.

Pérez was considered an extremist; one former guerrilla described him as "rigid and brutal".[2] His leadership is thought to have significantly affected the ELN's ideology (Cuban-style Marxism and liberation theology) and methods (which led to accusations of kidnapping, torture, and execution).[2]

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