Spanish government hands the Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic to Iván Duque and controversy erupts
The Spanish government decided last Tuesday in the Council of Ministers to grant the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, the Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic, the second most important decoration of the Order of King Felipe VI.
The news broke this Thursday and caused a stir, although it was a protocol tradition, since all Colombian presidents have been distinguished either with the Necklace, the highest distinction of this Order, or with the Grand Cross. This is what happened with Álvaro Uribe (2005) and Juan Manuel Santos (2015).
This concession led to the rejection of various sectors. One of them was that of United We Can (UP), a minority partner of the government led by Socialist Pedro Sánchez, whose ministers voted en bloc against this measure, according to the Spanish press.
No decoration to a government which must answer for its responsibility and put an end to impunity. Justice for the victims and for all the Colombian people 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 the visit of Duque in which the head of the international area of Podemos and MEP, Idoia Villanueva, argued that his training was contrary to the awarding of “no medals of an order from the king to the one who imposed the cloak of impunity as they murdered their people“.
The Colombian president is held responsible for the repression protests that began in April as part of the national strike and the disproportionate use of force which left 51 dead, more than a thousand injured and dozens of citizens missing.
Rejection of the Colombian diaspora
Social movements rejected the announcement of the prize, recalling the dead and injured from two months of protests and mobilizations, which began in April, following clashes with public forces.
Part of the Colombian community abroad has also expressed its refusal to see Duque receive this recognition. Protests have already taken place around the Madrid Book Fair, whose organization has been controversial in an edition, number 80, which has Colombia as a guest country.
?? #NOW 🔥 Here, one of the reasons for the decoration that Spain made to dictator Iván Duque, is the only one that turned rivers into cemeteries, every day in Colombia there are corpses of social leaders, of natives, demonstrators and signatories to the peace agreements pic.twitter.com/x2Gi8fezuh
– Pablo Úbeda🇳🇮 digital troop (@ TPU19J) September 14, 2021
Colombian journalists and writers have assured that the Colombian ambassador in Madrid, Luis Guillermo Plata, had banned important literary figures because of their political positions and their criticism of Duque’s management.
This was declared a few days ago by Winston Manrique Sabogal, a Colombian journalist who writes for the Spanish magazine W Magazín and who published an article in which he denounced that recognized figures of letters were excluded from participation in the literary encounter.
Laura Restrepo, Piedad Bonnett, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Pablo Montoya or Pilar Quintana are among 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 societybecause they already know them well enough. “The controversy had worsened previously when the Colombian ambassador had maintained that the list of writers had been drawn up so that the presence of his country at the Spanish event was writers “neutral “.
Tour of Spain and the USA.
Iván Duque’s visit to Spain began this Thursday morning, while he was received by Felipe VI in the Zarzuela Palace. Subsequently he has meeting with President Pedro Sánchez in Moncloa and, at noon, he attended a lunch in his honor offered by the Spanish monarchs.
The Colombian president’s Friday agenda includes a commercial act organized by ICEX, the public company responsible for promoting the internationalization of Spanish companies, in collaboration with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Spanish Confederation of Commercial Organizations (CEOE) in collaboration with the Colombian Embassy in Spain, ProColombia and House of America.
In the afternoon, Duque plans to go to the Madrid Book Fair. At first it was assumed that he wanted to present his book on this stage, although the president denied this version in an interview with RCN Radio.
At the weekend, the Colombian president will visit the US capital, Washington, where his first meeting with President Joe Biden.
Subsequently, he plans to attend between September 20 and 23 at the 76th United Nations General Assembly, where he will report on progress made in the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
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