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News > Colombia

Colombia: Spain’s King Does Not Stand Before Bolivar’s Sword

  • Spain's King, Felipe VI sitting

    Spain's King, Felipe VI sitting | Photo: NM

Published 8 August 2022

The King of Spain, Felipe VI remained seated in front of the sword that belonged to Simon Bolivar during the inauguration of Gustavo Petro in Colombia. A decision already criticized in Spain.

"As president of Colombia, I ask the Casa Militar to bring the sword of Bolívar. An order of the popular mandate and this president." This was the first order issued by Gustavo Petro, minutes after being sworn in as Colombia's president this Sunday, already with the tricolor band crossed at his chest and hundreds of euphoric citizens shouting.

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One of the most anticipated guests at the ceremony held outdoors in the heart of the capital, the Plaza de Bolivar, was not a person but a sword. The weapon that belonged in the 19th century to Simón Bolívar, the liberator of Colombia and part of Latin America, was stolen by the M-19 guerrillas in the 1970s and was only returned to the state when the armed group demobilized in the early 1990s.

The long sword was then carried in a glass urn by four costumed soldiers, and it was at this time that the controversy which hit Spanish politics arose, according to reports in Spanish media. When the sword arrived in the main square,  people and representatives from countries like Chile, Serbia and the United States stood up as a mark of respect - some even gave a standing ovation for the moment - but King Felipe VI remained seated in a space reserved for presidential guests.

In Spain, the king's decision has generated criticism from some sectors. Podemos founder and former vice president Pablo Iglesias described the gesture on Twitter as a "lack of respect for a symbol of Latin American freedom," giving rise to other negative comments posted on social media.

"From Podemos, we consider the matter extremely serious and we will consult the Foreign Minister if this disrespectful act by the head of state is endorsed by the government, as required by the Spanish Constitution," party sources indicate.

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