Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos inaugurated the 45th Vallenata Leyenda Festival and announced increased government support for the event’s annual celebration of cultural and music Thursday, reported local media.
According to Santos, the festival which takes place in Valledupar, northern Cesar Department, is the “anthem of the Colombian soul.”
The head of state went on to say that “Vallenata” would be added to the nation’s cultural heritage list and reaffirmed his interest in protecting and supporting the festival’s music scene, which is mostly inspired by traditional Caribbean rhythms.
A “safeguard plan” will be presented to the National Heritage Council this year.
Santos said Vallenato was “the music of Colombia, and we are going to turn it into an export product so they know it and even want it in China.”
The festival kicks off Friday, and includes some of Colombia’s biggest musical exports of recent years including Chocquibtown.