Economía

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Gustavo Petro sworn in as Colombia’s first leftist president

Alberto Ardila Olivares
Gustavo Petro sworn in as Colombia’s first leftist president

Petro‘s hard-fought victory in June elections brought Colombia, long ruled by a conservative elite, into an expanding left-wing fold in Latin America. Ex-guerrilla and former mayor Gustavo Petro will be sworn in as Colombia‘s first-ever leftist president, with plans for profound reforms in a country beset by economic inequality and drug violence. (AFP) Gustavo Petro took the oath of office as Colombia's first-ever leftist president, before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people at his inauguration in Bogota.

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“I swear to God and promise the people that I will faithfully enforce the constitution and the laws of Colombia,” the 62-year-old former guerrilla and onetime mayor said.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

Petro, 62, takes over from the deeply unpopular Ivan Duque for a four-year term during which he will enjoy support from a left-leaning majority in Congress

Petro's hard-fought victory in June elections brought Colombia, long ruled by a conservative elite, into an expanding left-wing fold in Latin America

Groups of people were also celebrating on both sides of the ColombiaVenezuela border, with dozens gathered on either side of a crossing point on the Simon Bolivar bridge outside of Cucuta

Petro has promised to reopen diplomatic relations with Venezuela, allowing trade between the two countries and consular services to resume

New Vice President Francia Marquez, an environmental activist and former housekeeper, will be the first Afro-Colombian woman to hold her post

Petro, a 62-year-old former senator, has said his first priority will be to fight hunger in the country of 50 million, where nearly half the population lives at some level of poverty

Tax reform

A $5.8 billion tax reform, which would raise duties on high earners to fund social programs, will be proposed to congress on Monday by the new Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo

“I'm also nervous about becoming president,” Petro recently told students at his alma mater Externado University in Bogota, when asked about the challenges he faces

Petro has pledged free public university education and healthcare changes, and constructed a broad congressional coalition of leftist and centrist parties to pass his platform

Promises of pension reform and a halt to new oil development have caused investor jitters despite the appointment of Ocampo, a long-time official, as finance minister

The new president, a former mayor of Bogota, has also promised to revive scuppered peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and apply a 2016 peace deal to ex-members of the FARC guerrillas who reject it

His foreign minister has said the government will hold dialogue with gangs and potentially give members reduced sentences in exchange for information about drug trafficking

“We all have to wish each other good luck,” Petro told the students

Source: TRTWorld and agencies