Colombia celebrates Independence Day

Colombia celebrates Independence Day

President Gustavo Petro marks day in San Andres and Providencia Archipelago, which has been the subject of a longstanding dispute with Nicaragua

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Colombians commemorated Independence Day on Thursday with a military parade, a flyover by the Air Force, historic reenactments, and tributes to the fallen in combat.

Thousands of people took to streets with the tricolor flag to cheer on the police, the navy, the military and the Air Force, which marched to celebrate 213 years of independence from Spanish rule.

President Gustavo Petro commemorated Independence Day in the San Andres and Providencia Archipelago, which has been the subject of a longstanding dispute with Nicaragua.

In a ruling earlier this month, the International Court of Justice in The Hague dismissed Nicaragua’s bid to expand its continental shelf.

In a speech, Petro highlighted the importance the archipelago has for the country and announced that his administration will pursue a dialogue with the government of Daniel Ortega to guarantee the fishing rights of the people of San Andres and Providencia.

"We will talk with Ortega about how we can ensure that the peoples of the Caribbean, the island peoples can have the right to fish without being disturbed," he said.

The president then returned to the country's capital Bogota to inaugurate a new Congressional year, where he was criticized for arriving three hours late to the parliament.

During this legislature, the president will try to pass controversial reforms that he was unable to get approved in the past Congressional period due to a lack of support after center and right-wing forces expressed discontent with the content of the bills.

In his speech in Congress, Petro spoke of the climate crisis and highlighted the importance of revitalizing the Amazon rainforest. He also spoke about social and environmental justice.

“This is the first speech to start some sessions that promise to be intense and interesting, I think that as happened in the past period. Each one of you must be aware that you are discussing issues for Colombians including health, pensions, working conditions, the circumstances that make a better life for millions of people, or the opposite,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wished Colombians "a glorious 213th Independence Day."

"Our shared democratic values, respect for human rights, emphasis on equitable economic growth, collaboration in addressing the existential threat of climate change, and joint efforts to provide support to vulnerable migrants and refugees reflect the importance of our close partnership. The people of Colombia can continue to count on the United States as a steadfast friend as we address shared global and regional challenges," he said in a press statement.

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