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Colombia has arrested 10 people accused of involvement in attacks on a helicopter with President Ivan Duque and a military base last month that officials said on Thursday were planned by former FARC rebel leaders in Venezuela.
The car bomb attack on the base in the northeastern city of Cucuta, home to the Army’s 30th Brigade, injured 44 people, including two US military advisers. Later in June, a helicopter approaching the city with Duque and other officials on board was fired upon.
The orders to carry out the attacks came from former FARC leaders operating out of Venezuela, Defense Minister Diego Molano said at the news conference.
“Obviously this attack on the president, against the 30th Brigade, was planned from Venezuela,” Molano said.
Molano said the attacks showed that the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was harboring dissidents from the FARC and calling them “terrorists.”
“I want to show that it is clear that this attempt against the president and the 33rd Brigade was planned from Venezuela and that it is therefore necessary for the international community to think about how the Maduro regime continues to protect terrorists who continue to attack Colombian institutions,” he said.
The 10 people imprisoned in Norte de Santander province are former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal, Attorney General Francisco Barbosa said during a news conference broadcast via social media.
Three of them participated in the planning and execution of both attacks and have been detained and charged, while another is a retired army captain, Barbosa said.
The Colombian government has long accused Maduro of turning a blind eye to the presence of Colombian rebels on his country’s territory. Maduro, for his part, has said that Venezuela is the victim of criminals from Colombia.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded: on Twitter, accuses Molano of pointing at Venezuela to divert attention from Colombia’s internal problems.
“Once again they are using Venezuela to hide the tragedy of their country,” he said, adding that Colombia was fraught with violence and armed groups, with an economy dependent on drug trafficking.
The latest development comes amid a new political crisis sweeping the country.
Protests across Colombia began on April 28 against proposed tax increases on public services, fuel, wages and pensions, but it has turned into a blanket demand for the government to pay long-term debt to the most vulnerable in society, such as indigenous and African-Americans. Latin people. Although Duque’s government withdrew the tax measure, protests continued and increased as reports emerged of: police brutality, arrests, deaths and disappearances.
On Tuesday the government formally presented a $3.95 billion tax reform bill to Congress as unions and student groups tried to revive the street protests.
The Treasury Department stressed that the bill will not affect most taxpayers, after a proposed increase in sales tax in the April version was particularly outraged.
But protesters have expressed skepticism about the government’s promises to reform key demands, such as police reform and improving youth opportunities, including a 25 percent minimum wage subsidy for companies that employ 18- to 28-year-olds. hiring.
Earlier in July, the UN Special Envoy to Colombia called on Colombian society to use the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest rebel group as an opportunity to address many long-standing issues that have sparked the protests and unrest.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu told the UN Security Council there is an urgent need to resolve these issues, saying “bold steps” are needed to accelerate the implementation of the peace agreement in the coming months.
Before the peace agreement with the FARC was signed, more than 50 years of war in Colombia killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly six million people. An amnesty law was passed covering most crimes committed by FARC fighters.
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