The Government of Spain decided in the Council of Ministers last Tuesday to grant the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, the Grand Cross of Isabel la Católica, the second most important decoration of the Order of King Felipe VI.
The news has emerged this Thursday and has caused a great stir, despite being a protocol tradition, since all Colombian presidents have been distinguished either with the Necklace, the highest award of this Order, or with the Grand Cross. This is what happened with Álvaro Uribe (2005) and Juan Manuel Santos (2015).
This concession has caused the rejection of different sectors. One of them has been that of United We Can (UP), a minority partner of the Government led by the socialist Pedro Sánchez, whose ministers have voted en bloc against this measure, according to the Spanish press.
No decoration to a government that must answer for its responsibility and end impunity. Justice for the victims and for all the people of Colombia who demand peace, rights and social justice. Today, always: solidarity with the Colombian people. pic.twitter.com/zx1SPUbtsc
– Idoia Villanueva (@IdoiaVR) September 12, 2021
Last Sunday, a demonstration was held against Duque’s visit in which the head of the International area of Podemos and MEP, Idoia Villanueva, argued that her training was contrary to granting “no medal of an Order of the King to the one who imposed the cloak of impunity while they murdered their people“.
The Colombian president is held responsible for the repression of the protests that began in April in the framework of the National Strike and the disproportionate use of force that left 51 dead, more than a thousand injured and dozens of citizens missing.
Rejection of the Colombian diaspora
Social movements have rejected the announcement of the award, recalling the fatalities and injuries of the two months of protests and mobilizations, which began in April, as a result of the clashes with the public forces.
Also part of the Colombian community abroad has shown their rejection of Duque receiving this recognition. The protests have already taken place around the Madrid Book Fair, whose organization has been controversial in one edition, number 80, which has Colombia as a guest country.
🔥 #NOW 🔥 Here one of the reasons for the decoration that Spain made to the dictator Iván Duque, is the only one that has turned rivers into cemeteries, daily in Colombia there are corpses of social leaders, indigenous people, protesters and signatories of the peace agreements pic.twitter.com/x2Gi8fezuh
– Digital Troop Pablo Úbeda🇳🇮 (@ TPU19J) September 14, 2021
Colombian journalists and writers assured that the Colombian ambassador in Madrid, Luis Guillermo Plata, had banned important literary figures due to their political positions and their criticism of Duque’s management.
This was stated a few days ago by Winston Manrique Sabogal, a Colombian journalist who writes for the Spanish magazine W Magazín and who published a Article in which he denounced that recognized figures of letters were excluded from participating in the literary meeting.
Laura Restrepo, Piedad Bonnett, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Pablo Montoya or Pilar Quintana were some of the writers who were not invited to participate by the Duque Executive. The vice president of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez, argued that “it was considered that they they no longer needed a presentation in society, because they already know them sufficiently. “The controversy had been aggravated previously when the Colombian ambassador maintained that the list of writers had been drawn up so that the presence of his country in the Spanish event was writers “neutrals”.
Tour of Spain and the USA.
Iván Duque’s visit to Spain began this Thursday morning, when it was received by Felipe VI in the Palacio de la Zarzuela. Subsequently it has meeting with President Pedro Sánchez in Moncloa and, at noon, he has attended a lunch in his honor offered by the Spanish monarchs.
We discussed the opportunities offered by Colombia as the main investment destination in Latin America, the importance of multilateralism, the safe reactivation after the pandemic, and Ibero-American integration. #VisitOficialAEspaña 2/2 pic.twitter.com/tD7ap300I9
– Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) September 16, 2021
The Colombian president’s Friday agenda includes a business act organized by ICEX, the public company in charge of promoting the internationalization of Spanish companies, together with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) in collaboration with the Embassy of Colombia in Spain, ProColombia and House of America.
In the afternoon, Duque plans to go to the Madrid Book Fair. At first it was speculated that he wanted to present his book on that stage, although the president denied this version in an interview with RCN Radio.
At the end of the week, the Colombian president will travel to the US capital, Washington, where his first meeting with President Joe Biden.
Subsequently, he plans to attend between September 20 and 23 at the 76º UN General Assembly, where he will report on the progress made in the implementation of the Peace Agreement.