The president was embarrassed by images of heavily armed guerrillas patrolling streets in the Arauca province.
A esta hora, en el caserío La Esmeralda, de Arauquita, Arauca, el ELN se pavonea en las calles.
El Pte. Duque está a 1 h 15 min., entregando “equipos para fortalecer la seguridad” en la región. pic.twitter.com/rEMrNUFf5G
— María Camila Orozco (@MCamilaOrozco) January 16, 2022
According to local journalists, the photos were taken in Arauquita at the time that Duque and Defense Minister Diego Molano were in the provincial capital Arauca for a security meeting.
We reviewed the troops of the two battalions we sent to reinforce and guarantee security.
President Ivan Duque
The images apparently sought to discredit the president’s claims that the government guaranteed security in the war-torn province.
In a response, the security forces said that the guerrillas spent no more than 10 minutes in the village of La Esmeralda where the photos allegedly were taken.
Duque published a video of soldiers allegedly standing guard in La Esmeralda to confirm that the military is in control in Arauca.
Mientras el terrorismo del ELN quería hacer propaganda armada de manera cobarde, desde la madrugada, tropas de nuestro @COL_EJERCITO hacen presencia y control territorial en el corregimiento de 'La Esmeralda', municipio de Arauquita, Arauca. #EsConHechos pic.twitter.com/BQiWQn4utN
— Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) January 17, 2022
Molano said Sunday that at least 30 people have been killed in Arauca after the ELN and dissidents of now-defunct guerrilla group FARC began fighting earlier this year.
In response to the violence, the national government said that the military sent more than 600 soldiers to Arauca.
The province on the border with Venezuela has effectively been controlled by the ELN for years.