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TRH Colombia: Day Three

30th October 2014

The Prince laughs during a visit to Cano Cristales

The Prince laughs during a visit to Cano Cristales

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The Prince of Wales visited one of Colombia's most beautiful areas on the third day of Their Royal Highnesses' visit to the country. 

His Royal Highness jokingly waved his arms in the air as if saving himself from falling in when he visited one of the world's most stunning natural phenomena - a river that runs red.

He flew by helicopter in to former guerrilla-held territory to see Cano Cristales - known as the liquid rainbow - a river that appears to change colour.

The Prince experienced the impressive sight caused by algae on the riverbed changing hue at different times of the year, from green and yellow to blue and black and famously red.

Earlier His Royal Highness spoke movingly about the loss of his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten, when he visited Bogota's Centre for Peace, Memory and Reconciliation which commemorates those killed and displaced during five decades of violence in the fight against guerillas and drug cartels.

In a speech about how he had "experienced the intense despair caused by the consequences of violence" and stress: "Many of you will probably not know that my own much-loved great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and members of his family ... were murdered in Northern Ireland, just over 30 years ago.

"So I feel I do understand something of the bewildering and soul-destroying anguish that so many of you have had to endure." 

The crystal clear waters of Cano Cristales are likely to become a major tourist attraction now the area - once in the hands of Farc (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas - is firmly in the hands of the government.

Julia Miranda, director of Colombia's national park, hosted The Prince's visit to the national wonder and said after the royal had left: "It was marvellous.

"The red colour of the waters was very intense.

The Prince of Wales and The President of Colombia look out over the huge Chiribiquete National Park

The Prince of Wales and The President of Colombia look out over the huge Chiribiquete National Park

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"He was really happy to be here and he asked many questions and seemed really interested in the geography of the area."

The Prince was also joined during his visit by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon who has been instrumental in helping to preserve Colombia's Amazon region.

The President and The Prince walked along the rocky riverbank and looked down at the miniature waterfall and also the swirling whirlpool that have been cut out of the rocks by the water.

Earlier The Prince had flown to the huge Chiribiquete National Park that encompasses the Amazon rainforest where it crosses into Colombia. 

Chiribiquete National Park is considered to be one of the world's outstanding wildlife regions and is home to varied and unique cultural heritage, ecology and biodiversity.

The Prince helicopter landed on one of a number of table top mountains known as Tepui - which translates as house of the gods - and he explored briefly before heading to Cano Cristales.

The national park will benefit from the Colombian President's Amazon 2020 vision - which aims to achieve zero deforestation of the rainforest by the start of the next decade - and in 2013 he more than doubled its size to 2.8 million hectares, an area the size of Belgium.

Cano Cristales, south of the capital Bogota, is close to the town of La Macarena and its residents and other groups are attempting to develop a sustainable tourism programme so local people benefit from foreign visitors and the environment is protected.

Before leaving the region His Royal Highness visited the quiet settlement and toured a local church built by guerrilla fighters which has a mural painted above the altar showing Jesus with his 12 disciples who are depicted as Colombian peasants.

The Prince chatted to members of the local community who told him about life in La Macarena during the years of conflict and how things are now.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall began their third day in Colombia by visiting the Peace and Rehabilitation Centre in Bogota. They were joined by President Santos and the First Lady and viewed an art exhibition based on the theme of reconciliation. The centre honours those who lost their lives in civil conflict in Colombia.

The Duchess of Cornwall and The First Lady then attended a meeting about ending sexual violence in Colombia.  Her Royal Highness met Jineth Bedoya Lima, a journalist and campaigner who was abducted in May 2000 and August 2003 and the Leader of "Now is not the Time to be Silent". 

In 2001, she was awarded the Courage In Journalism Award of the International Women's Media Foundation.

For several years, The Duchess of Cornwall has worked to raise awareness of the issue of rape and sexual violence. In the UK and during overseas trips, Her Royal Highness has met victims of sexual violence and heard about their experiences, leading to a desire to raise awareness of the issues they can often face. Find out more about The Duchess's work in this area here.

The Duchess of Cornwall and the First Lady then visited the Quinta de Bolivar Museum. The Quinta de Bolivar is a colonial house in Bogota, Colombia, that served as a residence to Simon Bolivar in the capital after the war of independence. It is now used as a museum dedicated to Bolivar's life and times. Bolívar played a key role in Latin America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas.

The Duchess of Cornwall and The First Lady visited the Escuela de Cabelleria del Ejercito, meeting staff and some of the equine residents. Her Royal Highness breeds her own horses and loves to ride when she can. Her Royal Highness is Patron of a number of animal charities such as the Brooke Hospital for Animals. 

Today the special guests toured the stables, met young riders and viewed an equestrian display.

The Prince and The Duchess then headed to beautiful Cartagena to continue their tour of Colombia, where they will visit the Gold Museum, meet artisans and local craftspeople and hear about efforts to counteract the drug trade. The Prince will also make a speech at the Health of the Oceans conference, before hosting The President and The First Lady of Colombia on HMS Argyll. 

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at an event for Peace and Reconciliation, Bogotá, Colombia

Published on 30th October 2014

Mr President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

My wife and I were deeply touched to be invited to join you today to honour the victims of civil conflict in Colombia.

It is an immense tragedy that violence has cast such a long shadow across the whole of this remarkable country for the past five decades.  Many of you here today will have experienced unimaginable suffering, and our hearts go out to you as you struggle to come to terms with all that has happened to you and your loved ones.

I suspect that many of you will probably not know that my own much-loved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and members of his family including one of my godsons were murdered in Northern Ireland just over thirty years ago.  So I feel I do understand something of the bewildering and soul-destroying anguish that so many of you have had to endure. 

It is my earnest hope and prayer that Colombia will soon find a lasting and durable peace.  Of course, as we have learnt in the U.K.from the Northern Ireland Peace Process, and the Good Friday Agreement, building conditions for peace takes time and there are pitfalls along the way.  Great political and moral leadership is required from all parties to the conflict; and from society at large, which must also strongly feel the need for truth, reconciliation and forgiveness. 

It is enormously encouraging to see victims participating directly in the Havana negotiations, speaking of their experiences and expressing what they would ...

Read full speech
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