Colombian authorities said on Thursday (22) that the attack on the helicopter in which President Iván Duque was in late June was planned from Venezuela by a former Colombian soldier and dissidents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). .
The presidential plane was shot several times as it approached an airport in the city of Cúcuta, on the Venezuelan border, during a visit following a car bomb attack on a military installation of the region. The president and his companions are unharmed.
In a statement, Defense Minister Diego Molano announced that three defendants had been arrested. One of them is Andrés Fernando Medina, a retired Colombian army captain who allegedly conceived and executed the plan against Duque, according to Attorney General Francisco Barbosa.
According to initial investigations, two AK-47 rifles bearing the mark of the Venezuelan Armed Forces were found in the attack zone. Those arrested in the Duque attack were also behind the car bomb that exploded on June 15 in an army barracks, injuring 44 people – there were no deaths.
Barbosa added that behind both events is the 33rd FARC dissident front, led by a man who works under the pseudonym João Mechas. In addition to the former soldier and his accomplices, seven other people were arrested for alleged participation in the attack on the barracks.
The base used by the Army’s 30th Brigade, in the San Rafael neighborhood, is the largest in this area on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, as operations against illegal groups are coordinated from there.
Heavily militarized on both sides, the Colombia-Venezuela border region has been the scene of clashes between local criminal groups, guerrillas and their dissidents. Despite the peace deal with the FARC, the country’s military continues to face members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), gangs and former FARC members who reject the pact – all operate in the province of Norte de Santander, where the 30th Brigade operates.
Duque has repeatedly accused dictator Nicolás Maduro of harboring dissidents and ELN troops in Venezuelan territory. “We must reflect on the international community […]: Maduro’s regime continues to harbor terrorists, whose attacks they plan against Colombian institutions, ”Molano said. Without diplomatic relations since 2019, the two countries share a 2,200 km border.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza used his Twitter feed to reply to the Colombian minister. “Once again, they are using Venezuela to try to hide their country’s tragedy,” he wrote, adding that Colombia is rife with violence and armed groups, with an economy dependent on trafficking. drug.
The Maduro dictatorship also accuses Duque of infiltrating “destabilizing agents” through the Cucuta region, supposedly sent by the United States, to attack the regime. In addition to its military importance, the region is one of the main exit points for refugees from Venezuela and has great geopolitical relevance.
The famous “trochas” also pass by the place, through which pass drugs, fuel and other goods. Colombia, the world’s largest exporter of cocaine, is facing the worst outbreak of violence since the signing of the peace agreement with the FARC.