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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Colombia: Joe Biden offers support to Ivan Duke's counterpart to "tackle" "terrorist acts"

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US President Joe Biden on Monday offered his "support" to his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque in "tackling (…) terrorist acts", following the light weapon attack on his second helicopter on Friday near the border with Venezuela.

This was the first time the US president had spoken directly with Mr Duke since taking office at the White House, according to the Colombian presidency.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the fire against the presidential helicopter was the work of fighters of the organization National Liberation Army (ELN), officially the last guerrilla group that remains active in Colombia, and / or FARC insurgents, who reject the 2016 peace agreement. .

The two groups, as well as far-right paramilitary groups, clash over control of thousands of acres of coca crops, drug trafficking and illegal mining, especially gold, and smuggling to Venezuela.

The ELN and / or dissidents of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are also accused by Mr. Duque's government of being behind the bombing ten days ago at the 30th Army Brigade base in Cucuta (east), the main city on the border.

The attack slightly injured some of the Americans at the base as part of US-Colombian military co-operation against drug trafficking.

The FBI is involved in the search for those responsible for the energy, which injured a total of 36 people.

The ELN denied any involvement.

According to the Colombian presidency, Biden also expressed "concern about the situation in Venezuela and its impact on the region" and "stressed the importance of seeking an international consensus for free and fair elections" in the country. she.

Colombia and the United States are at the forefront of efforts to oust Socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power. Bogota and Washington call him a "dictator" and recognize one of the opposition leaders, Juan Guido, as the legitimate interim president.

Despite sharing a porous 2.200-kilometer border, Bogota and Caracas have not had diplomatic relations since February 2019.

The Duke government has announced an ambitious plan to legalize some 1,8 million immigrants from Venezuela living in Colombia.

During the telephone conversation, Mr. Biden also announced the donation to Colombia of 2,5 million doses of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson Group).

The US president also noted that he supports the right to peaceful demonstrations and added that the security forces must comply with "the highest standards of accountability" for their actions.

In late April, Colombia experienced an explosion of social outrage, initially triggered by a tax bill that quickly slipped into the drawer. Although most of the demonstrations are peaceful, there have been widespread incidents and dozens of people have been killed, mostly protesters.

Source: RES-EAP

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