Biden expresses support for Duke Colombia after attack | Conflict news

A helicopter carrying Colombian President Ivan Duque and other ministers was shot down Friday near the Venezuelan border.

U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed support for his Colombian counterpart, Ivan Duque, after a helicopter carrying the Colombian president and other government officials was shot down. shot at the end of last week near the border with Venezuela.

In a statement Monday, the White House said Biden called on Duke “to express US support after the attack.”

The helicopter was hit by several bullets while working the Catatumbo region of the country towards the city of Cucuta, capital of the Northern province of Santander.

No injuries were reported, and the Colombian government later proposed a reward of nearly $ 800,000 for any information that would help capture the perpetrators.

The attack came in the middle growing violence in Columbia, which hosts several armed groups. Colombian observer group Indepaz said over the weekend that 45 massacres – the killing of three or more people in a single event – have been recorded so far this year.

Authorities often accuse armed groups – including dissidents who have rejected a 2016 peace agreement between the government and rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – for acts of violence.

Colombian President Ivan Duque speaks during an interview in Bogota in March [File: Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

The village was also shaken by it mass anti-government protests since April, when a tax reform proposal was rejected due to disproportionate damage to the country’s middle and working classes.

Colombian police have been accused of “flagrant” abuses in their efforts to stifle protests, attracting criticism from rights groups and other observers. Dozens of people were killed in the protests.

In its statement, the White House said Biden in his call with Duke also “expressed his support for the rights of peaceful protesters, stressing that the application of the law must be kept to the highest standards.” of responsibility, and condemned unnecessary acts of violence and vandalism. “

The U.S. president “reaffirmed the lasting partnership between the United States and Colombia,” the statement said, while pledging to donate 2.5 million coronavirus vaccines.

Like other Latin American countries, Colombia is now experiencing another COVID-19 pandemic wave. The nation has recorded more than 4.15 million cases and more than 104,600 deaths from the virus to date, according to a Johns Hopkins University count.

A poll last month found that Duke was the popular menu chairman in Columbia’s history, with 76 percent of respondents saying they disapproved of their record.

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