On Monday, Colombia asked the United States to declare neighboring Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism that is alleged to have sheltered dissident fighters suspected of being behind the attack on President Ivan Duque’s helicopter last month.
This situation deserves “a declaration by the United States (Venezuela) as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Duque said at an event attended by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg.
Last week, Bogota said the attacks from Venezuela were planned by dissidents who distanced themselves from the 2016 FARC peace deal with the government and a former Colombian military officer.
The Duque helicopter was approaching Cucuta Airport on a flight from Sardinata on June 25 when several shots were fired – apparently from rifles.
The president flew in with Minister for defense Diego Molano, Interior Minister Daniel Palacios and other officials.
There were no casualties on board the plane, but photos released by the President’s office showed the helicopter’s stern and main blade hit.
Molano later announced the arrests of several of the alleged perpetrators, adding, “It is clear that this attack on the President was premeditated from Venezuela.”
Duque has repeatedly accused Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of harboring FARC dissidents and ELN fighters in his country, claims Caracas denies.
Last week, Molano said that “the Maduro regime continues to protect terrorists from planned attacks against Colombian institutions.”
Countries on the US terrorist list include Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba since the last few weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Addition to the list could lead to a number of sanctions, as well as arms export and sales bans, and restrictions on US external aid.
On Monday, Duque warned that his government would “completely dismantle” the dissident FARC movement believed to be behind attacks on him and earlier on a military base in which 44 people were injured.
“We will deal with it and the Colombian state will contain all forms of terrorism,” the president said.
There has been a recent spike in violence in Colombia, sparked by FARC dissidents fighting over controversial drug trafficking routes with paramilitary groups and the ELN, Colombia’s last active guerrilla group.
“Don’t be too cynical,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Areaza replied to Duque’s statement on Twitter.
“You are responsible for … a government that exports drugs and violence. A powerful terrorist factory that rules out the possibility of internal peace and sends mercenaries to produce violence and kill the president of the region.”
It was an indication of the alleged involvement of former Colombian soldiers in the assassination of Haitian President Yovenel Moise on July 7.
Colombia and Venezuela have not had diplomatic relations since 2019 when Colombia joined the United States and other countries, rejecting President Nicolas Maduro’s contested re-election, instead recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Neighbors share a border of about 2,200 kilometers (1,370 miles).
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with Colombian Vice President Martha Lucia Ramirez on Monday.
He called for “the importance of protecting and promoting democracy in the region, particularly in Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba,” department spokesman Ned Price said.