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Colombia National Day

12 July 2017

Dr Maria Eugenia Correa Olarte, Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia to South Africa hosted a reception to celebrate the 207th Anniversary of Colombia's Independence.

In her remarks Ambassador Olarte said that Colombia is the second country with the most biodiversity per square kilometer in the world. Part of this biodiversity is in the Pacific Coast and in the Amazon, a total 48 million hectares, equivalent to 42.3% of Colombia's national territory.

She also said that after 52 years of living in great internal conflict a peace agreement was signed with the FARC, the oldest guerrilla in the world, on January 25, 2016 and on the 27th of June 2017, the FARC finalized the delivery of their weapons.

Going forward Ambassador Olarte said, "We are now in the post-conflict stage, a hard stage, where we must overcome our differences as a country and commit ourselves to generous forgiveness to try to leave our children the legacy of a stable and lasting peace."

Traditional 'Vallenato band', Eibar Gutierrez y La Banda Eterno Abril, who were on tour from Valledupar, Colombia entertained guests at the celebration.

Speech by Dr Maria Eugenia Correa Olarte, Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia to South Africa

As I address all of you on the celebration of the 207th anniversary of our independence, I want to thank you for accepting this invitation.

I must confess that as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Colombia in South Africa, this country has always captivated me. I had the opportunity to come to this country before the end of apartheid and again in the year in which it ended and I always said, what a great country, what a great example for the world, what a beautiful landscape and what a warm and special people they are.

Since my arrival on July 1st of 2016 and my subsequent presentation of Letters of Credence on October 5th of the same year, we have not stopped trying to consolidate and strengthen our relations with this great nation.
Because of these efforts and the cooperative attitude of the South African Government, we are about to sign several MoUs in the areas of Environment, Security, Defense, Mines, Natural Parks, Breast Cancer and youth.

Now, I want to tell you a little about my country:  It is of course, for all Colombians the most beautiful country; Because of its landscapes, its culture, its sports, its diversity, and its people, their spirit of entrepreneurship, resilient attitude to overcome adversities and warmth.  For these and many more reasons I am incredibly proud to have been born on this piece of land blessed by God. Hopefully, you will one day have the opportunity to visit us to see our wonders and have contact with this Magical Realism, in which we live permanently, as described by our Literature Nobel Prize Gabriel García Márquez.

I also want to tell you that Colombia is the second country with the most biodiversity per square kilometer in the world. Part of this biodiversity is in our Pacific Coast and in the Amazon, a total 48 million hectares, equivalent to 42.3% of our national territory.

We have two coasts, one in the Pacific Ocean and another in the Atlantic, which accentuate our diversity even more.

We are the first producer of emeralds in the world, we have 4,010 species of orchids, a great variety of birds and frogs among other species, which emphasizes the importance of our environment.

Now it is also true that for 52 years we lived in great internal conflict and the world saw us as a country without hope.   But thanks to the efforts of our President Juan Manuel Santos (Nobel Peace Prize Recepient), his constant work, his unwavering dedication, and his commitment to the peace process, we managed to sign a peace agreement with the FARC, the oldest guerrilla in the world, on January 25 of 2016, the agreement emphasizes the accompaniment of the United Nations permanently during this process.
 
For six years we had the support of countries such as Cuba, Norway, Chile and Venezuela and also the support of the entire international community, the UN, OEA.

As Victor Hugo said: today calls for war should no longer be made, but calls for "civilization".

South Africa has been our model and example. What we wished for the most was eradicating the pain caused by this long war that left more than 8,000 victims and more than 200,000 dead, our decision as Colombians was to advance as a united nation within the channel of democracy seeking justice and reparation. In this aspect, we followed the example that South Africa gave us at the time. Just a few days ago, on the 27th of June, the FARC finalized the delivery of their weapons. We will never forget this historic day in the life of our nation.

We are now in the post-conflict stage, a hard stage, where we must overcome our differences as a country and commit ourselves to generous forgiveness to try to leave our children the legacy of a stable and lasting peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, forgive me if I have extended myself, but I wanted to share today with my friends these achievements and to thank all of you all the international support Colombia has received in recent times.

Thanks again to all of you for your presence here this evening.

Embassy of Colombia in South Africa

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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January/February 2020

 
 
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