Plans for the August 7 inauguration of Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos are in full swing, with seventeen heads of state and government expected to attend the ceremony.
Inauguration day will begin in the Sierra Nevada mountain range close to Santa Marta in northern Colombia, where the president-elect will take part in an indigenous rite. Spiritual leaders or “mamos” and political representatives of the four different indigenous peoples living in the Sierra Nevada – the Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa and Kankuamo – will take part.
The indigenous leaders will present Santos with stones, symbolizing Mother Earth, and gifts representing water, the mountains, air, and humanity, Colombian daily El Informador revealed Wednesday.
Santos will return to Bogota in mid-morning to finalize preparations for the swearing-in ceremony and to have lunch with his family.
Shortly after 2PM, the former defense minister will arrive at the San Carlos Palace, the seat of the Colombian Foreign Ministry, before walking with his relatives to Plaza de Bolivar to be sworn in.
El Tiempo estimates that 3,000 people will attend the ceremony, along with seventeen heads of state and heads of government, representatives of another 50 governments, and the prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbon. Outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe will also attend.
During his inauguration, the 58-year-old politician will wear a silk sash with golden and silver threads, which took tailor Luis Abel Delgado over a month an a half to make.
Security forces throughout Colombia will be on high alert on the day of the inauguration. Samuel Moreno, the mayor of Bogota, announced that 22,000 policemen, 4,000 soldiers, and 800 members of the DAS security services would secure the capital during the ceremony.
In addition, authorities have banned the carrying of firearms in Bogota and in the Cundinamarca department. The measure came into force Monday and will last until 6PM on Wednesday, August 11. Other restrictions for the weekend include a ban on motorbikes carrying passengers and trucks transporting gas cylinders.