Edited by Anna Popper

Every year, Colombians celebrate their National Day on July 20 with great pride and joy, which marks a milestone event that changed the history of the Latin American country. The uprising in 1810 and the formation of the Junta de Santa Fé marked a pivotal moment in Colombia’s history, leading to its declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule after three centuries. The 20 July Museum, established in the historic Llorente’s House in Bogotá, has been a valuable resource for understanding Colombia’s struggle for independence, showcasing a wide range of objects (more than 2,000) that tell the story of the country’s heroic past.

The symbolism behind the colours of the Colombian National Flag is quite meaningful, with yellow representing the country’s abundant gold, blue symbolising its seas, and red standing for the blood shed in the fight their independence. This flag undoubtedly carries a rich historical, cultural and moral significance for the Colombian people.

On the occasion of the 213 years of the country’s independence, H.E. Mr. Ignacio Enrique Ruiz Perea, Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia to Hungary and Mrs. María Adela Coral hosted a diplomatic reception at the Budapest Marriott Hotel. Those present included senior government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Guest of Honour Amb. Lóránd Endreffy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, representatives of the social and cultural life, as well as academic and business circles, Colombian nationals in Hungary and friends of Colombia.

The formal part of the event started with the national anthems of both Colombia and Hungary,

followed by the remarks of Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ignacio Enrique Ruiz Perea:

“Today, July 20 marks exactly 40 days since four children were found, who were lost in the vast jungles of Colombia for 40 days. They were found alive and safe. You’ve heard it in the news worldwide. Four indigenous children from the Uitoto tribe, siblings, 13, 9, 4 and barely one year old. They had survived a plane crash in which their mother died. I call it ‘the Miracle of the Jungle’: that impregnable, dark Amazonian jungle, full of wild animals, insects, insanitary conditions, with permanent rain, but also the jungle that was in charge of protecting them and giving them life they needed. It is life, it is the jungle: two mainstays of the current policy of President Petro’s government: Colombia, World Power of Life, and Colombia, seeking to preserve the environment, the Amazon, the lungs of the world and the fight against climate change.

On the 5th May, the Colombian Congress approved the National Development Plan, called ‘Colombia, Power of Life’ where, in the words of President Gustavo Petro,  “environmental justice and social justice are the two great pillars so that Colombia can be a power of life”, and it will give the country a new global and regional position, with a foreign policy oriented and structured around peace, and a cooperation with the American region and the European Union, among other similar regions of the world, that will be strengthened.

We are glad to know that Colombia will be the Pro-tempore President of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, bringing together 33 countries in the region) in 2025, and we celebrate the success in the recent 3rd EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels (17-18 July). For this reason, it is very gratifying to report the progress of the recent high-level meeting called “Road to the Amazon Summit”, held in Leticia on the border with Brazil and organized by the Colombian government. After that, the European Commission announced the so-called “Amazon Plus” program within the framework of the “Global Gateway” strategy of the European Union, which will work hand in hand with the Amazonian countries.

But above all these projects, the peace project for Colombia, the so-called “Total Peace” which is the guiding principle of the current government, stands first. This peace project has found support in the UN Security Council, the Organization of American States and the European Parliament, which expressed its support for the ceasefire agreement between the national government and the ELN on the 21st June. For this reason, the preservation of life and the Amazonian jungle are priorities of a country like Colombia, a country that has long lived with the stigma and prejudice generated by past events that still can be experienced.

We don’t want more names like Pablo Escobar, Mancuso or Tirofijo. We want more Shakira, more Carlos Vives, more Fernando Botero, more Egan Bernal, more scientists like Patarroyo or Llinás. Thus, we want more names like Gabriel García Márquez, whose work ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ celebrates 56 years of being published, as one of the most widely read books in the history of literature.

Hungary and the Republic of Colombia have opted for a sincere, pragmatic relationship, reflected in the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations being celebrated this year: a relationship that has been strengthened by the reopening of the two embassies – in 2017 and 2018 – and with a continuous work in the fields of education, agriculture, commerce and culture, sectors where we have identified strengths and needs on both sides. We keep working on it every day thanks to the excellent team of the Directorate of the Department of Latin America and the Caribbean, headed today by Ambassador Lóránd Endreffy, former head of mission at the Hungarian Embassy in Bogotá for several years. I take the opportunity today to bid farewell to him and wish the best of luck on his next diplomatic assignment.

Finally, with the constant support of my wife María and my children Nico and Cami, with the excellent teamwork of this Embassy, and the flawless support of the Honorary Consul Dr Katalin Nagy, I wish to share with you all this important occasion to celebrate the 213th anniversary of Colombia’s Independence, inviting you to enjoy Colombian music and to taste some of our gastronomy.

Thank you very much for your presence.”

The Guest of Honour, Ambassador Lóránd EndreffyDirector of the Department for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, former Ambassador of Hungary to Colombiawho was awarded the prestigious Grand Cross of the Order of San Carlos by the President of the Republic of Colombia, addressed the distinguished audience:

“Thank you, Ambassador for the invitation to celebrate Colombia’s National Day and for providing me with this opportunity to share a few words. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the people of Colombia on the occasion of their National Day. As some of you may know, between 2017 and 2021 I had the privilege of serving as the Ambassador of Hungary to Colombia, a country with a rich history, vibrant culture and warm-hearted people.

Colombia holds a special place in my heart, also for being a true friend of Hungary and a valued partner in fostering diplomatic ties with the Latin American region. Our bilateral relations have flourished over the years, fuelled by shared values of mutual respect and cooperation.

In the past two years as Director for Latin America in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, I have had the privilege of working closely with the ambassadors of Latin American countries both residents and non-residents in Budapest. Our collaborations have led to significant progress in various fields, from trade and investment to education and cultural exchange. Your support and cooperation have been invaluable, and I want to express my deepest appreciation for your commitment towards building bridges and fostering prosperous relationship between our nations.

As I prepare to assume a new role, I carry with me the lessons learned and the cherished memories of our time together. Though my physical presence may shift to a new continent (Africa), my heart will always remain connected to the vibrant spirit of Latin America and the friendships we have made.

Last but certainly not least, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to all my colleagues at the Department for Latin American and the Caribbean for their unwavering support, hard work and dedication during my time as Director. I am confident that we will have another chance to work together again in the future. I wish you all the best.”

The event continued with a reception in friendly atmosphere, featuring specialities of the excellent Colombian cuisine, known for its diversity and rich flavours, while the invitees were listening vibrant Colombian and Latin American live music performances.

Read also: Award Ceremony by the Embassy of Colombia to Hungary

Source: Embassy of the Republic of Colombia in Budapest

Photos: DPA