The Colombian rock star Juanes and Ecuadorian musician Juan Fernando Velasco symbolically exchanged their countries’ flags on Thursday on the Rumichaca Bridge, one of many border crossings between their countries. Antonio Navarro, the governor of Colombia’s Nariño province was among the 500 people who attended the ceremony, which is part of a bilateral effort to reestablish diplomatic relations. Official diplomatic ties between the two neighbors were suspended in March 2008 after an unauthorized incursion by the Colombian Army into Ecuadorian territory.
Juanes and Velasco stated jointly that the broad ties between their countries should overshadow any diplomatic disagreements between Bogotá and Quito. Juanes, who in November was awarded the 2009 National Prize for Peace, has long been recognized for his work on behalf of victims of armed conflict. His initiatives also include efforts to boost mutual understanding between nations through music, as was the case in Havana earlier this year.
Yesterday’s ceremony was part of the first World March for Peace and Nonviolence organized by the international activist organization World Without Wars. The march started on October 2 in New Zealand and will cross through 90 countries before reaching Punta de Vacas in Aconcagua, Argentina on January 2, 2010. Supporters of the march include various heads of government in the region including President Michelle Bachelet of Chile and President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica.