Colombian armed forces commander General Freddy Padilla challenged the legitimacy of a video released by the FARC to prove they have Simon Bolivar’s sword, saying that the weapon “looks more like a machete”.
Padilla said he was “indignant”, as the rest of Colombia should be, that “the memory of liberator Simon Bolivar is manipulated in this way.”
The army commander said that the people featured in the video do not look like guerrillas, who endure the harsh conditions of life in the jungle.
The guerrilla organization announced that they were in possession of the sword at the beginning of February.
The sword of Bolivar has had a long and tumultuous history in Colombia, in which myth and rumour are often indistinguishable from fact. In 1974, leftist guerrilla group M-19 stole the sword from Bolivar’s country house, a museum outside Bogota.
The sword then supposedly passed to the hands of infamous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, in return for favors granted to the M-19. Escobar’s son, Juan Pablo, says the sword hung on the wall of his childhood bedroom “like a toy.”
After the M-19 demobilized in 1991, they returned the sword in a ceremony in Bogota. Afterwards, the weapon’s exact location was not known. According to popular belief, it was in Fidel Castro’s possession for a time.
Simon Bolivar played a key role in liberating Latin America from Spain in the 19th century. He is frequently used as a populist symbol by political leaders, including Hugo Chavez.
To watch the full video (in Spanish), click here.