The helicopter carrying Colombian President Ivan Duque and other ministers was shot down on Friday near the border with Venezuela.
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 fired late last week near the border with Venezuela.
In a statement Monday, the White House said Biden called on Duke “to express U.S. support after the attack.”
The helicopter was hit by several bullets as it flew through the Catatumbo region of the country to the city of Cucuta, capital of the northern province of Santander.
No injuries were reported and the Colombian government offered it later a reward of nearly $ 800,000 for any information that helps catch the perpetrators.
The attack took place in the middle increased violence in Colombia, which hosts several armed groups. The group of Colombian observers Indepaz said over the weekend that so far this year there have been 45 massacres (the killing of three or more people in the same event).
Authorities often blame armed groups, including dissidents who rejected a 2016 peace deal between the government and rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), for acts of violence.
The country has also been shaken by mass protests against the government since April, when a tax reform proposal was rejected because it disproportionately harmed the country’s middle and working classes.
The Colombian police have been accused of “flagrant” abuses in their efforts to quell the demonstrations, calling for criticism from advocacy groups and other observers. Dozens of people are believed to have died 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 law enforcement must comply with the most high standards of responsibility and condemned acts of violence and excessive vandalism. “
The U.S. president “reaffirmed the lasting partnership between the United States and Colombia,” according to the statement, while pledging to deliver 2.5 million coronavirus vaccines.
Like other Latin American countries, Colombia is currently experiencing another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation has reported more than 4.15 million cases and more than 104,600 deaths from the virus to date, according to a Johns Hopkins University count.
Last month, a poll found that Duke was the less popular president in Colombia’s history, with 76 percent of respondents saying they disapproved of its history.