In 2019, the military parade to commemorate July 20, Independence Day, took place on San Andrés Island. With this gesture, the government aimed to celebrate the recent favorable ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in favor of Colombia’s sovereignty over some nautical miles claimed by Nicaragua.
This was a quite exceptional event, as it had only occurred twice before. Since independence, Bogotá has hosted the annual military parade of the Armed Forces on July 20. However, other governments have moved the event to other cities in the country under exceptional circumstances.
Reaffirmation of sovereignty over the sea of San Andrés
The announcement was made by the President of the Republic, following the International Court’s ruling, which rejected Nicaragua’s claims. The Central American country sought to extend its sovereignty over the maritime platform beyond the 200-mile border with Colombia. After years of legal disputes, the court ruled in favor of Colombia, and with the upcoming national holiday, the government saw the opportunity to move the event to the archipelago.
Precedents in 2007 and 2012
Although during the presidencies of Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010) and Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), there was a certain decentralization of the events, there are only two precedents for a change of location due to exceptional circumstances, both in San Andrés.
2007: The July 20 parade in 2007 was also held in San Andrés, similar to this year’s decision. It was considered an “affirmation of the archipelago’s sovereignty,” according to analysts, as the territory was then claimed by Nicaragua. However, this claim was denied at the time by the Minister of Defense, who later became President Santos, who simply justified it as “an option to provide incentives to the island.”
2012: Once again, San Andrés was the chosen location, canceling the initial plan to celebrate the parade in Popayán. President Juan Manuel Santos justified this decision as a request from the governor of the archipelago and a celebration of the centenary of San Andrés. Nevertheless, tensions were already present at that time due to Nicaragua’s territorial claims, including the waters surrounding the archipelago.