A street in Bogota symbolizes the rapprochement between Palestine and Colombia

In the center of the La Cabrera neighborhood, one of the most exclusive sectors of Bogotá, on Calle 86 with Carrera Septima, the Palestinian flag flew on Wednesday. Then their anthem was played. The new name for this street was inaugurated: the State of Palestine. Thanks to the management of Councilor Ana Teresa Bernal, very close to President Gustavo Pietro, and after the encouragement of other council members for seven years, the City Council approved the name that catalyzed this symbolic action.

It was not a simple job. The day included the participation of Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, Palestinian Ambassador Raouf Al-Maliki, and members of a diplomatic delegation from other Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina. In an interview with El Pais newspaper, Al-Maliki expressed his happiness at the improvement of bilateral relations with the administration of Gustavo Petro, and pointed out that there are clear instructions from the presidency so that foreign policy reflects the friendly relations between the two countries.

As part of his visit to Colombia, in the hours before the inauguration, the Chancellor held a private meeting with Petro. In it, the details of some bilateral agreements that will be signed on Thursday were revised. The first is the diplomatic visa exemption, which seeks to facilitate visits by officials. Another goal is technical cooperation, which will take place through the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA), with training on topics such as agriculture and health. Another option is education, which from now on should make student exchanges easier and progress will be made in creating Middle East courses in Colombia, while joint research areas will be stimulated. All of this enhances the recognition of Palestine as a state with well-established and legitimate institutions in various fields.

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Counselor Bernal, from the government party Colombia Humana, confirms that the lack of will and some procedural obstacles delayed this symbolic step, which for her is crucial in building peace, which is the struggle that unites the two peoples. He added: “We must support peace efforts between Israel and Palestine.”

Petro’s connection to the Palestinian issue is not new: when he was mayor of Bogotá, he twinned the capital of Colombia with Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government. However, in the last semester, Colombia did not vote twice in favor of Palestine in international areas. For example, he abstained at the United Nations from voting against Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied territories. In this regard, Petro said that the decisions of the responsible diplomats were contrary to his directives, so the new approach finally reflects the president’s feelings.

Political analyst Mauricio Jaramillo Jacir believes that this dispute between part of the diplomatic corps and the president goes beyond the Palestinian issue. “Petro has many ideas regarding foreign policies, but he does not seem to have an advisor who can put them into practice,” he says. He points out that the rapprochement between the two peoples is a historical matter, as there is an important Palestinian community in Colombia that has become invisible. Diplomats emphasized this particular point in their speeches at the street baptism ceremony, where they pointed out that there has been a migration of this people to Colombia since the nineteenth century.

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