“As president of Colombia, I ask the Casa Militar to bring the sword of Bolívar. An order of the popular mandate and of this president.” It was the first order issued by Gustavo Petro, a few minutes after taking the oath as president of Colombia this Sunday, already with the tricolor band crossed on the chest and hundreds of euphoric citizens shouting.
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One of the most anticipated guests at the ceremony, which took place 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 only 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 around this time that the controversy that hit Spanish politics erupted, according to reports in the Spanish media. When the sword arrived in the main square, people and representatives from countries like Chile, Serbia and the United States stood up in respect – some even gave a standing ovation for the moment – but the King Felipe VI remained seated in a space reserved for presidential guests.
In Spain, the king’s decision has drawn criticism in some sectors. Podemos founder and former vice-president Pablo Iglesias described the gesture on Twitter as a “disrespect for a symbol of Latin American freedom”, prompting further negative comments posted on social media.
“From Podemos we consider the matter extremely serious and we will consult with the Minister of Foreign Affairs if this disrespectful act by the Head of State is approved by the Government, as required by the Spanish Constitution,” party sources say. .