20th July: Colombian Independence Day

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20th July: Colombian Independence Day

Viva Colombia!

Colombian Independence Day is celebrated annually on the 20th July.  The event marks the day that, in 1810, the residents of Bogotá were stirred into protesting on the streets against Spanish rule. A limited independence, later made permanent, was decreed in the country, freeing Colombia from the Spanish.

The riot was incited under unusual circumstances, although it is said the plan was pre-devised. The plan was that a selection of Bogotanos would ask Spanish merchant Joaquín Gonzalez Llorente for a flower vase. It was assumed – correctly – that Llorente, an uncharitable man, would refuse. This refusal would grant an excuse to begin the riot. Accounts differ over whether Llorente rudely denied the request or not but the end result was the same: the patriots took to the streets claiming Llorente had been rude and an already bubbling population finally boiled over the edge.

One of the great appeals of the holiday is its global reach. Owing to the large amount of emigration that has taken place in Colombia’s history, many parties take place in cities throughout the world. This normally includes London, San Francisco, Melbourne and New York City. Thousands of Colombians and Latinos take to the street to enjoy the revelry and the spirit of Colombia captures the whole city.

Unfortunately this year the normal festival in New York City that takes place in Queens (home to over 200,000 Colombians) on the weekend after Independence Day will not take place as the organizers have run out of funding. Since the festival receives no government support it relies on local sponsors, many of whom have had to retract their donations owing to the current economic situation.

Festivals in San Francisco, London and Melbourne all still took place, however, in honour of Colombia’s Day of Independence.