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Colombia pays tribute to Bolívar, celebrates 200 years of independence

Published:Saturday | July 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Members of the folkloric group from the University of Cartagena in Colombia give a lively performance during a wreath-laying ceremony for Simón Bolívar at National Heroes Circle in Kingston yesterday.-Ricardo Makyn/staff photographer

Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

Traffic along National Heroes Circle came to a a standstill several times yesterday morning as passing motorists strained to see what was happening over at the statue of Simón Bolívar.

The occasion was a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of 'The Liberator', but it was not all formalities. Today, July 20 ,marks the 200th anniversary of Colombian independence and that nation's embassy here wanted to mark the eve of the celebration with a tribute to the man and his ties to Jamaica.

What caught the eye was the performances of the folklore group from the University of Cartagena. The performers had the gathering clapping and singing along, diplomats perhaps wishing they hadn't worn suits as they moved to the infectious beats.


But it was the curious expressions of passers-by and residents of nearby Allman Town that were priceless. Onlookers, some stopping along the busy thoroughfare, got out their camera phones and tablets trying to capture the event. While some may not be able to tell you where in modern-day South America Bolívar was from, they know he's a 'big man'.

"I believe Jamaica and Colombia have a lot in common," said William Bush, minister counsellor in the Colombian embassy. "So, I'm not surprised about people stopping by, and also with the music. Our music and Jamaican music is almost the same."

He noted that Bolívar was already a key feature of history lessons, but they wanted to expand that.

"We want people to know who Bolívar was, what his philosophy was, and see what we can arrange in getting that philosophy spread around the Caribbean."

It was in Kingston in 1815 that Bolívar wrote his famous Carta de Jamaica (Letter from Jamaica), in which he not only expressed his vision for a free Latin America, but set his plans to achieve it in motion. Colombian Ambassador to Jamaica Luis Martinez, and Jamaica's Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade State Minister Arnaldo Brown noted that both countries have maintained fruitful and diplomatic relations over the decades.