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  • Colombia's President Ivan Duque addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019.

    Colombia's President Ivan Duque addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 September 2019

Colombia has long claimed that Maduro is sheltering rebel fighters and crime gang members without evidence. 

Colombian President Ivan Duque gave the United Nations what he called, "conclusive proof" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's support of so-called terrorist groups during his speech to the organization's General Assembly on Wednesday, including a photo of National Liberation Army (ELN) members the Colombian president claims was taken in Tachira, Venezuela last year.

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"The ELN were in rural schools of the state of Tachira to indoctrinate (school children) - April 2018," claimed Duque during his speech Sept. 25 to the nearly 200 member nations at the annual dimplomatic event in New York. 

However, according to El Colombiano, the first media outlet to fact check the president's address, says that the claims are outright "wrong."

The author of the El Colombiano article, Javier Macias, says the photo was actually handed over "exclusively" to the newspaper in June 2015 by the nation's "military intelligence" and that the image is of ELN members, dressed as clowns, who are giving gifts to children and helping them draw.

The news agency added that they contacted the presidencial press service for comment on the claims, but are still awaiting a response.

"My government has irrefutable and conclusive proof that corroborates that the dictatorship supports criminal and narco-terrorist groups that operate in Venezuela and try to attack Colombia," Duque told assembled world leaders in New York on Wednesday, holding up a copy of the 128-page dossier.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, speaking to reporters at the U.N. after Duque's speech, called the Colombian head of state's address, "shameful." 

"The Colombian people must be disappointed" that Duque spent "80 percent of his speech discussing another country," Arreaza told reporters.

Duque said he would turn over the evidence to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres.

"This 128-page dossier holds the evidence that shows the complicity of the Nicolas Maduro regime with the terrorist cartels that attack the Colombian people."

Maduro says that Colombia is preparing to attack Venezuela, and has repeatedly tried to overthrow his presidency since last January in coordinated efforts with the United States.

During his speech, Duque failed to mention the photographs that emerged last week that were taken by the Colombian criminal group, Los Rastrojos, which links the gang to Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, who has Duque’s explicit support. A Rastrojos leader later confessed on video that the Colombian government aided the group in escorting Guaido from Venezuela to Cucuta, Colombia last February when he was wanted by authorities and prohibited from leaving the country for a January coup attempt. ​​​​​​​

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