The cancelled meeting with Gustavo Petro, Colombia's president, and the attempt to reschedule it are occupying the last hours of Catalan president Pere Aragonès' visit to Bogotá. The two governments had confirmed that Petro would receive Aragonès yesterday at the Nariño palace, but the meeting was cancelled almost two hours after the Aragonès' arrival. The Catalan government attributed the decision to the crisis caused by the miners' protests in Cauca, in the southwest of the country. However, Petro held a meeting with the opposition groups at Nariño palace until late in the evening to discuss the healthcare system reform.
The Catalan government tried to deal with the setback explaining that it will try to reschedule, bearing in mind that the Colombia trip ends tonight and, therefore, there are only a few hours left to fit the meeting in, and knowing that the Colombian president's informality does not excessively surprise the Colombian press.
But while Aragonès' entourage has surrounded the negotiations with absolute discretion to avoid another disappointment, the Colombian ambassador announced in a tweet that the meeting will be held today. Not only that, he made it clear that the embassy has acted as the Catalan president's shadow since he arrived in Colombia.
Tras el viaje de cooperación a Villavicencio, acompaño hoy en Bogotá al Presidente del @govern en sus primeros contactos institucionales. Esta tarde, con el Presidente de la Cámara de Representantes y con el Canciller. Mañana, con el Presidente de la República.@M_Presidencia pic.twitter.com/tx7JgCWhSH— Joaquín de Arístegui 🇪🇦 🇨🇴 (@JAL_1966) March 14, 2023
This situation has also fuelled the controversy over the treatment received by the Catalan government. For example, the Catalan flag that was placed on the table at the meeting with David Racero, Speaker of the House of Representatives, was smaller than the Spanish flag. Moreover, a representative of the Spanish embassy was present at that meeting with Racero. The Catalan government tried to hide it by cropping the photograph.
Aragonès began his third and final day in Colombia with an interview on Rádio Caracol, where he was asked about the situation in Catalonia and the dialogue with the Spanish Government, but also about former minister Xavier Vendrell's presence in Colombian politics, who has become one of the most trusted men in Petro's inner circle. Specifically, he was asked about Vendrell, Xavier Grau and Eva Ferrer. Aragonès admitted that he knows them, "because they have been active in Catalonia". "One was a member of my party. And I have a good personal relationship with them", he explained.
The Catalan president argued that just as there is a Colombian politician in the Catalan parliament, it should also be possible for Catalans to have "political involvement" in Colombia.