South America: Colombia's new President Petro takes office

The new Colombian President Gustavo Petro has taken office.

South America: Colombia's new President Petro takes office

The new Colombian President Gustavo Petro has taken office. The left-wing politician took his oath of office on Sunday in Plaza Bolívar in the center of the capital Bogotá. Several colleagues such as Chile's President Gabriel Boric, Argentine President Alberto Fernández, Bolivian President Luis Arce and Spain's King Felipe VI. attended the celebration.

Anger was caused when the outgoing conservative government refused at the last moment to hand over the sword of national hero Simón Bolívar and the sculpture "Dove of Peace" by artist Fernando Botero, which were to be displayed at the presidential inauguration.

In the June 19 runoff, Petro defeated populist real estate entrepreneur Rodolfo Hernández. Vice-President Francia Márquez is the first black woman to head the state.

Big Challenges

Petro wants to normalize relations with Venezuela and reopen the borders with the neighboring country. He also wants to consistently implement the peace treaty signed six years ago with the guerrilla organization FARC and also to start talks with the country's other armed groups.

In addition, the ex-guerrilla announced that he would slow down the exploitation of raw material deposits. This could also have consequences for Germany, which wants to import more coal from Colombia in the future because of the sanctions against Russia because of the war of aggression against Ukraine.

The challenges for the new head of state are great: Colombia is struggling with the economic consequences of the corona pandemic, great social injustice and widespread violence. The previous conservative government of President Iván Duque only half-heartedly implemented the peace agreement with the FARC. Many ex-combatants therefore went underground again and joined criminal gangs.

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