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  • Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza speaks with reporters in New York at U.N. General Assembly meetings. Sept. 25, 2019

    Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza speaks with reporters in New York at U.N. General Assembly meetings. Sept. 25, 2019 | Photo: @ConElMazoDando

Published 25 September 2019

Foreign Minister Arreaza says Colombia's President Duque is using Venezuela as a 'smoke screen' to avoid its own problems that destabalize the region.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said after President Ivan Duque gave his speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that the Colombian head of state is using Venezuela as a "smoke screen" to avoid discussing the “real problems going on in his country.”

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When talking to the press after Duque spoke at the assembly meeting in New York, Arreaza said the “Colombian people must be disappointed” that their president spent “80 percent of his speech discussing another country,” referring to Duque’s focus on Venezuela when addressing the international leaders on Wednesday. 

The Colombian president accused Venezuela of maintaining links with narco paramilitary groups, but failed to mention the  photographs that recently emerged taken by the Colombian criminal group Los Rastrojos that 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. 

In addition, the government is not keeping up its end of the 2016 peace deal that includes protecting rural activists and former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), over 150 of whom have been murdered since the agreement came into force.  

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said he will not meet with the self-declared interim president, Guaido, and encouraged dialogue between Venezuela and Colombian, President Duque refused the suggestion.

"Their (Colombia’s) strategy (to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro) has awkwardly failed again and again," said Arreaza. 

"The paramilitary groups are in Colombia (...) for 70 years Colombia has been the main threat to regional peace and security, that is why we have always appealed to seek peace in Colombia"
 

"For 70 years Colombia has been the main threat to regional peace. Since they killed Jorge Eliécer Gaitan (presidential candidate who advocated for labor rights and land access) in 1948, a conflict began that has not ended," stated Arreaza. He added that the Colombian governments like those of former president Alvaro Uribe only deepen and spread the nation’s conflicts, “creating very serious consequences in Venezuela, in Ecuador, in Panama and in the region,” Arreaza told journalists.

While Venezuela continues to be attack and blockaded by the United States and its allies, the Bolivarian Revolution is strengthening itself, creating stronger ties with Moscow where President Nicolas Maduro was on Wednesday to discuss bilateral agreements with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. 

"Thanks to the pressure of world capitalism, we are strengthening relations with our allies," said Arreaza in New York.

During Wednesday’s U.N. session, Arreaza also met with several other foreign ministers, including Pradip Kumar Gyawali from Nepal and Spain’s Josep Borrell who encouraged dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition after the latter called the talks “finished” in September.

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