(CNN Spanish) — Simon took Bolívar’s sword from the Casa de Narino, carried it to the Plaza de Bolívar, and presented it to the more than 100,000 people who attended his inauguration: this Gustavo Pedro’s first order, Colombia’s first left-wing president, after he took office. But why? The answer lies in the story of this national icon—a movie.
“This sword represents so much for us, and for us, that I wish it never to be buried again, I wish it never to be wielded again, only to be buried – said its owner, the Liberator – when there is justice. In this country, let it belong to the people: it belongs to the people.” Sword, that’s why we love it in this time and place.
This was part of Pedro’s message after Bolívar’s legendary sword arrived in a heavily guarded glass case on the stage of the square named after the Liberator last Sunday.
Pedro requested that Bolívar’s sword be included in the ceremony, but faced a refusal from the government of current former president Ivan Duque, who did not authorize its transfer to a public space. His argument, according to a report by local media Semana, was security issues.
“Bolivar is not dead”: The day the M-19 guerrillas stole Bolivar’s sword
According to the Presidency Review, this is the most recent chapter in the long history of the liberator’s sword, an area listed in 1924 that bears the relief shield of Gran Colombia and the three stars of General Bolivar.
A most remarkable chapter in its recent history is enclosed To M-19, a socialist urban guerrilla In which Pedro invaded in his youth.
On January 17, 1974, Review Miguel angel Gutiérrez of the Universidad del ValleA group of five, led by one of the guerrilla leaders, Alvaro Fayed, broke into the Quinta de Bolivar museum in Bogotá, where the sword was kept, and stole it.
In its place he left a black mark and a note: “Bolivar is not dead. His sword breaks the cobwebs of the museum and he throws himself into the wars of the present. It goes into our hands and points against the exploiters now. The people.”
The impact of the robbery was greater than many imagined: next year the number of fighters of the M-19 – so-called Second wave of guerrilla movement in the country It grew across the region under the influence of the Cuban revolution in the 1970s — from 30 to 200, according to the review.
And this is no exception to movement, which is indeed characterized by “acts of symbolic influence,” According to the National Center for Historical Memory (CNMH).In 1980 the embassy of the Dominican Republic was seized and weapons were stolen from the military stronghold of North Canton through a tunnel north of Bogotá.
His whereabouts are unknown for 17 years
The sword did not count for the next 17 years. Decades later, it’s still unclear exactly where it was kept, although according to Gutierrez, it was initially passing through a brothel, and for a time it was in the custody of the poet Leon de Greef.
In 1986, the guerrillas created the “Order of the Guardians of the Sword”, in which 12 members received a replica of the sword in gold.
There were rumors that the sword had left Colombia, which Pedro denied in an interview in 1988, in which he said: “Bolivar’s sword will be presented publicly; it is in Colombia and it will continue to be in Colombia.”
The story took a new turn on January 31, 1991, when the guerrillas returned the national emblem of the M-19 Liberator within the framework of a relaxed peace accord after a two-year process. They took her to the Banco de la Repubblica and then to the Casa de Narino, according to the decision of then-President Cesar Gaviria.
This Sunday, August 7, the sword came before the eyes of the people again. And the date is no coincidence: it coincides with the inauguration of the president Anniversary of the Battle of Boyaka, in which the liberators sealed Gran Colombia’s independence from the Spanish Empire. It was in that battle that Bolívar, with his “precise orders”, was able, in the words of General Francisco de Paula Santander, “to complete at once all the work he had undertaken”.
With information from Melissa Velásquez Loaiza, Rocío Muñoz-Ledo and Fernando Ramos from CNN en Español.
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