French President Francois Hollande arrived in the Colombian capital Sunday night to begin his official two-day state visit to a country hosting 2017 as “Colombia-France Year.”
Hollande’s visit to Bogotá is the first of a world leader after this nation signed an historic peace accord with the Marxist guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and during the next two days, the French President will work with his counterpart Juan Manuel Santos on strengthening their bilateral agenda that includes investment opportunities during this post-conflict.
Hollande is the first French president to visit Colombia in 28 years. In 1989, President François Mitterand came to Bogotá to meet with President Virgilio Barco and during one of the most violent years of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s offensive against the state. Liberal presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan was assassinated on August 18th of the same year, plunging this nation into all-out war against Escobar’s Medellín cartel.
But much has changed for in South American nation during three decades and Hollande’s state visit reinforces strong historical ties between two nations.
Hollande will visit Tuesday one of 26 camps known as “Transitional Zones” where FARC guerrillas have concentrated to begin their demobilization and handing-over of weapons process. These “Transitional Adjustment Zones” are monitored by the office of the United Nations Secretary General and representatives of the guarantor nations that oversaw the four-year long peace talks in Havana, Cuba.
The United Nations is also in charge of confirming the fulfillment of the bilateral cease-fire between the government and FARC as ratified by the Final Accord.
On Monday, the French President will lay a wreath at the home of Liberator Simon Bolívar, the Quinta de Bolívar, and meet Santos at the Presidential Palace Casa de Nariño. On Monday evening a gala concert at the Colón Theatre will tribute the head of state as this country embarks on a cultural agenda to celebrate Colombia-France Year. A state dinner hosted by President Santos, and winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace prize, will be held after the concert.