«October 12 commemorates an invasion, a genocide, a conquest, a looting. There was never a discovery”, October 2017. “Bogotá was not founded by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, it already existed. Indigenous history should not be erased, since it existed. By deleting that story, only a false story is imposed. The one about the conquistadors who murdered those indigenous people”, August 2020. These two phrases belong to the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, whose Twitter profile is loaded with examples that feed the Spanish black legend. A propaganda that he proclaimed again on Monday, on the eve of the state trip to Spain, stating that the Colombian people fought to get rid of the “Spanish yoke.” However, tonight Petro will wear the highest distinction given to foreign leaders and in which the Crown of Castile is represented: the Collar of the Order of Isabel la Católica. This has been confirmed by diplomatic sources to EL MUNDO.

Elected president of Colombia in August of last year, he is one of the politicians who govern Latin America who feeds discourses contrary to the history of the conquest of Spain. Despite this, the Bolivarian leader has accepted the necklace of Isabel la Católica, a distinction created by Fernando VII on March 14, 1815 with the name of the Royal and American Order of Isabel la Católica, with which “those behaviors Extraordinary events of a civil nature, carried out by Spaniards and foreigners, that redound to the benefit of the Nation or that contribute, in a relevant way, to favor relations of friendship and cooperation between the Spanish Nation and the rest of the International Community”.

“This type of ruler incurs serious contradictions when accepting symbols linked to the empire,” says Iván Vélez, philosopher, historian and expert in the black legend. However, he recalls that from that time “both Colombia and Spain are heirs.” He also believes that Petro should not forget that Queen Isabella of Castilla “is the first protector of the Indians.” Because if the president claims the need to protect indigenismo, it is because “indigenous people exist” and these local ethnic groups continue thanks to a first protection from Isabel la Católica. “Colombia is a country that comes from those viceregal structures,” he recalls.

According to Royal Decree 2395/1998, of November 6, the King is the Grand Master of the Cross and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Grand Chancellor. It is, in fact, José Manuel Albares who is responsible for awarding the award. An Order that has different degrees of insignia: Grand Cross, Number Commander, Commander, Officer’s Cross, Cross, Silver Cross, Silver Medal, Bronze Medal. Petro has received the Necklace, the highest decoration, and they hope that he will wear it at the gala dinner that the Kings will offer tonight.

As described in the Royal Decree, the necklace consists of “a central piece, the seal of the Catholic Monarchs, represented by a gold eagle, in the center of which, hiding its body, stands the quartered coat of arms of the Arms of Castilla y León, which correspond to Doña Isabel, and those of Aragón and Sicily, to Don Fernando». The leader who criticizes the conquest of America with the shield of the Catholic Monarchs hanging around his neck. Verónica Alcocer, his wife, has been awarded the Grand Cross. Like Álvaro Leyva, Peruvian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It is an unwritten rule in Spanish diplomacy to grant leaders who make a state visit this distinction. Thus, since the trip of the President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, last week, was of an official nature, they did not impose any decoration on him. In addition, as the necklace is the highest distinction of the Order, only two or three are awarded per year.

Petro has shown from the first day of government a historical revisionism that has put the country in protocol trouble. His first order was in the act of taking possession, when he ordered the sword of the liberator Simón Bolívar to be brought to the place of celebration. The military man, founder of Gran Colombia after independence, was a man who belonged to the elites and whose mandate after the liberation was far from granting equality to the country, as explained in Malditos Libertadores by the former Nicaraguan ambassador to Spain Augusto Zamora. However, he is revered by a part of the population and his sword was an important symbol for Petro, since the M-19 guerrilla stole it and held it hostage until 1990. Now, the Colombian president adds Isabel’s necklace to the important symbols Catholic.

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