Father of Colombian jungle kids refuses to address abuse claims

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Cheating’ father of miracle Colombian jungle kids has surrounded himself with ‘minders’ and refuses to address claims he abused their mother as he leaves hospital in tiger-head necklace

  • Manuel Ranoque – the father of two of the four siblings – said he had been told not to talk when DailyMail.com confronted him about allegations of abuse
  • His brother-in-law Dairo Mucutuy said Ranoque cheated on Magdalena Mucutuy Valencia and left her dangling with hope they could mend the relationship
  • Dairo said it was that hope that led her to take the fateful aircraft journey that killed her and two others and left her children to fend for themselves for 40 days

The father of two of the Colombian rescue children has surrounded himself with ‘minders’ and is going shopping for clothes in the capital Bogota – amid allegations he’s a love cheat who beat his wife.

DailyMail.com directly confronted Manuel Ranoque in the street after claims he abused Magdalena Mucutuy Valencia and her family exclusively told us he had an affair that ultimately led to the jungle plane crash that killed her.

Sporting what appeared to be new red and white Nike high top sneakers, designer jeans and a colorful Indigenous beaded necklace emblazoned with pictures of toucans and a tiger’s head, he dodged our questions.

Asked if he had any response to the claim he physically beat Magdalena, one of the minders with him shook his head and said: ‘Don’t answer that.’

Manuel Ranoque took to the streets of Bogota in his snazzy new outfit. The man in green behind him is the ‘minder’ who told him not to answer DailyMail.com’s questions

Manuel Ranoque dodged DailyMail.com’s questions about allegations of abuse while standing outside the Bogota hospital where the four children are recuperating

Exclusive photos show the four siblings, Lesly, 13, Soleiny, nine, Tien Noriel, four, and baby Cristin, one, safe in their hospital beds at a military hospital in Bogota, Colombia 

Dairo said it was that hope that led Magdalena to gather up her children for the fateful aircraft journey that killed her and two others

Ranoque, who was outside the military hospital where all four children are recovering after their astonishing 40-day survival ordeal in the jungle, did however tell DailyMail.com: ‘That’s what I can’t talk about.

‘I can’t say anything. They’ve forbidden me from saying anything. These are personal issues.’ 

It was not clear who he was referring to when he said ‘they’, but it understood he has engaged a lawyer.

When asked if he would talk about the rescue, he declined, saying: ‘I can’t right now. Because I have to go to the shops to get some clothes before they close.’ He did not say if this was shopping for himself or the children.

Ranoque headed to a taxi organized by the man who told him to stay quiet and was joined by at least two other men.

DailyMail.com exclusively revealed Wednesday that Ranoque was cheating on Magdalena, who is the mother of all four rescued children and his wife of seven years. And Magdalena’s father Narciso has accused him of hitting her.

Ranoque – who has been highly vocal about claiming his rights over all four survivors – left Magdalena  at their Indigenous community for Bogota, alleging he was being threatened by FARC guerrillas in their homeland area.

But once in the sprawling capital city, the father of the two younger children allegedly had an affair – then brought the woman back to live in the southern tribal area, shattering his wife of seven years, her brother Dairo Mucutuy told DailyMail.com.

Ranoque later left for Bogota again, but kept the mom-of-four dangling with hope that they could re-establish a relationship, Dairo, 30, told us.

And it was that hope amid her partner’s affair that led her to suddenly – and without her family’s knowledge – gather up her children for the fateful light aircraft journey from the Amazonian village of Araracuara to the town of San Jose del Guaviare en route to the nation’s capital.

Ranoque was told ‘Don’t answer that’ when DailyMail.com asked him about the abuse allegations

Ranoque has bought new clothes and is no longer wearing the worn sweater he had been wearing when he first got to Bogota

Magdalena Mucutuy Valencia was left dangling with hope they could mend the relationship, according to her brother

Sitting in the lobby of his Bogota hotel, Dairo calmly revealed to us: ‘What happened is that Manuel had come to this city and here he cheated on my sister.

‘The thing is, he took the woman he cheated with back to the community. So my sister of course left their house because of the affair and came to live with me and my partner and two children.’

Magdalena died in the plane crash along with the pilot and an Indigenous leader

Dairo, who has come to the capital from his base in the Huitoto Indigenous group homeland to offer his support for the surviving children, continued: ‘Manuel went back to Bogota, but he left a bag for her and inside was a piece of paper with a phone number.

‘Magdalena was communicating with him. But we noticed when she talked with him she would hide. And we would sometimes hear her crying.

‘We believe somehow she was fooled into trying to come to Bogota. We are not exactly sure of the reasons.’

Tragically, the engine on the 17-year-old blue and white Cessna light aircraft carrying Magdalena and the four siblings failed and the plane crashed in deep undergrowth on May 1 at Solano, Caqueta, near the Ecuador border.

Lesly Jacombaire Mucutuy, 13, Soleiny Jacombaire Mucutuy, nine, Tien Noriel Ranoque Mucutuy, four, and one-year-old Cristin Neriman Ranoque Mucutuy survived the impact and astonishingly stayed alive for 40 days in the snake-infested jungle before being rescued in a story that has gripped the world.

They are recovering from their ordeal in a military hospital in Bogota, while a custody battle has broken out over them between the mother’s side of the family and Ranoque.

The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare has assigned a case officer to the children at the request of their maternal grandparents.

However, DailyMail.com is able to reveal the full background to the tragedy that is now pitting Ranoque against the family of the children’s mother.

Additionally, we can reveal the identity of Lesly and Soleiny’s father as Andres Jacombaire, who is also in Bogota to support his children as the drama continues and questions are asked over their future.

DailyMail.com spoke to Valencia’s brother Dairo as he sat in the lobby of his Bogota hotel. ‘We didn’t know Magdalena was leaving with the children,’ Dairo said. ‘The most painful thing is my sister never said goodbye to us’

The four indigenous children are pictured after being rescued. They were missing for six weeks in the Colombian Amazon jungle after a plane crash 

‘We didn’t know Magdalena was leaving with the children,’ Dairo said. ‘The most painful thing is my sister never said goodbye to us.

‘We didn’t get to talk. It hurt when I found out what was happening between her and Manuel. I am so sad I never got to talk to her properly about it. I felt I didn’t want to pressure her about something that was so difficult for her.

‘I was waiting for the right moment. But that moment never came because she obviously made her decision to leave and we didn’t know about it.

‘Right before, she came to a community meeting and we thought she was going on to our aunt’s house. We didn’t know her goal was to take that plane. Maybe she felt confused. We’ll never know now.’

Amid the growing acrimony over the children’s future, Dairo told us: ‘The hope is for the kids to stay together, because of what they went through.

‘Lesly got them all through this. And that makes a special bond. We want them always to stay together and that Manuel does not fight for custody.

‘I have talked to the older two’s father, Andres. He has seen the children and he told me that this is not the time for fighting and division. It is the time to focus on the well-being, safety and comfort of the children.’

Referring to his mother Maria Fatima Valencia, Dairo continued: ‘Maybe it would be fine for them to stay with their grandmother.

‘Eventually they are going to go through psychiatric assistance as well as their medical help. That will be through the Colombian government.

‘And then, only then, are we going to decide who will take custody of the kids.’

Two of the children made touching colored drawings of Wilson the Belgian Shepherd rescue dog who went missing during the mission to save them. The drawings were revealed when the head of the Colombian armed forces, General Helder Giraldo visited the children in the hospital

In Lesly’s drawing, six-year-old Wilson is depicted next to a river full of fish, a tree, some yellow flowers and with the sun shining on a pathway

Belgian Shepherd Wilson played a vital role in tracking down the four children but remains missing in the Amazon rainforest

Ranoque has appeared outside the military hospital several times since the children were taken there on Saturday after their astonishing rescue by Colombian military who launched a desperate mission after the crash.

His version of events has diverged considerably from what the other side of the family has said.

On Sunday, he asserted that Magdalena was alive for four days after the plane crash, saying: ‘Let’s be clear, the girl (Lesly) knows everything.

‘The only thing that she clarified is that the mother was alive for four days. Before she died… she told them “Go! And you will find out what your dad is made of… and what your father’s love is like.”‘

However, Dairo dismissed the story and its sentiment. He confirmed to DailyMail.com that Magdalena tragically died instantly and gave more heartbreaking details of the horror.

‘Lesly has said that on impact, her mother died,’ Dairo told us. ‘And that when she saw the bodies, the baby (Cristin) was moving so she pulled the baby out.

‘The baby was with the mother. It is false that he was saying that she was alive four days. She died on impact.’

Of Manuel’s statements, Dairo – who thoughtfully considered every answer to our questions before speaking – said: ‘I know he’s trying to create something.’

Ranoque has appeared outside the military hospital several times since the children were taken there on Saturday after their astonishing rescue. He has been highly vocal about claiming his rights over all four survivors

Dairo confirmed to DailyMail.com that his sister tragically died instantly on impact and gave more heartbreaking details of the horror

‘But we want to say things as they are. We don’t want different stories going around. He’s saying one thing, we are sticking to what we know.

‘And I know he might be doing this to create some kind of conflict. We don’t want to go there.’ 

Then he warned: ‘But if we have to go there, we are going to stand our ground.’

Dairo also condemned Manuel’s allegation that he has been threatened by FARC guerrillas and that was the reason for vanishing and asking Magdalena to join him in Bogota… claiming she and the children were also under threat.

‘Saying those words is very dangerous,’ said Dairo. ‘That is also potentially making us all in the spotlight. It’s a very serious thing to say. There is no evidence he was threatened. But the consequences of his words could create a dangerous situation for all our family.’

DailyMail.com’s revelations follow our exclusive pictures of the four children recovering in the hospital, on the mend and playing with pink stuffed animals.

We also revealed moving colored drawings done by Lesly and Soleiny of missing rescue dog Wilson, a Belgian Shepherd who played a key role in finding them.

The drawings obtained by DailyMail.com were given to the head of Colombia’s armed forces, General Helder Giraldo, when he visited the children on Monday.

Soldiers of the Colombian Air Force treat one of the children rescued from the Colombian jungle during the operation on June 9

Soldiers of the Colombian Air Force and employees of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) give medical attention inside a plane to the surviving children of a Cessna 206 plane crash

In Lesly’s drawing, six-year-old Wilson is depicted next to a river full of fish, a tree, some yellow flowers and with the sun shining on a pathway.

Soleiny’s image was similar, with Wilson near a tree, a flower and the sun beaming. One side of the drawing has the Colombian flag and the message ‘Always blessed’.

Grandfather Narciso said: ‘They are making them make drawings… something that they need in order to express themselves.’

Rescue dog Wilson was presumed lost a few days before the siblings were found after he ran away from his handlers, until rescue teams found his footprints near those of the children.

The loyal canine stayed with the children for several days before being lost once again and despite proving crucial to the search mission, which was codenamed ‘Esperanza’, the Spanish word for hope, has not been found.

Dramatic new details of the children’s astonishing ordeal were also revealed by grandfather Narciso on Monday evening. Two other people died in the crash, the pilot and an Indigenous leader.

He said: ‘When she (Lesly) realized her mother was already dead, she saw the little feet of her little sister among the three dead bodies.

‘She pulled the kid out. And then she immediately saw the others were injured then she headed to open the mother’s bag, took out some clothes and started ripping them apart and starting bandaging.

He said there was 3lb of flour on board. ‘They stayed around the airplane for four days to see if anyone would pick them up,’ he continued.

‘But then after four days went by they took off. But she said she didn’t know which way to go. Then after a while they started leaving tracks everywhere they would sleep in case anyone would be looking for them, it would help find them.’

He also revealed: ‘When they were hearing helicopters they would hide under the large trees because they were fearful.

‘And when members of the community and military would be looking for them she (Lesly) would see them 10 meters away and they would hide and stay still and cover the mouth of the little one so she wouldn’t cry.

‘When the indigenous members of the community were seeking them around the area, the kids would never respond because they thought if they would find them they would give them toys for hiding – and this is why they wouldn’t respond to the people calling out for them.’

The incredible rescue was against all odds. The children survived in a jungle crawling with snakes, jaguars and other predators. Their survival was helped by the 3lb of cassava flour that was on the plane.

When found, they were dehydrated, malnourished and bitten by insects but are otherwise healthy, rescuers said.

Grandmother Maria, whose voice was played from aircraft above the jungle during the search to reassure the youngsters they were being looked for, told reporters: ‘I never lost hope,

‘I was always supporting the search. I feel very happy.’

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro, who has visited them in hospital, said after the rescue: ‘They are children of the jungle, and now they are also children of Colombia.’

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