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  • Santos Sworn in as Colombia’s New President

    Published on August 9, 2010

    Colombia’s new president Juan Manuel Santos was sworn in Saturday afternoon, taking over the power from Alvaro Uribe at a ceremony held at the Bolivar Square of the capital city Bogota.

    In his inaugural speech, Santos said that he would launch a relentless fight without truce against the illegal armed groups in the country.

    However, he said that he would be open for negotiations to completely eradicate violence in Colombia.

    “We will continue fighting all the illegal organizations, without truce … We will not rest till the state of law is present in all and each one of the towns of our homeland,” Santos said.

    On international relations, Santos said that one of his priorities was to reset ties with neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador.

    “One of my fundamental aims will be to reset ties with Venezuela and Ecuador, to restore the trust and to privilege the diplomacy and the prudence,” Santos said.

    Ecuador severed its ties with Bogota in March 2008, after Colombia launched a raid on a guerilla camp in its territory and Venezuela broke up diplomatic ties with Colombia last month after Bogota accused it of hosting Colombian guerilla chiefs in its territory.

    Before the official ceremony, Santos attended on Saturday morning a symbolic ceremony with the spiritual authorities of four ethnic groups in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the north of the country.

    Santos said in the inaugural speech that during the symbolic ceremony, the natives gave him a collar with four stones, “representing the soil, which must be taken care of; the water, which is the source of life; and the stone of the good government.”

    “These symbols will be an integral part of my administration. Today I reaffirm that my government will be of national unity, seeking social prosperity for all the Colombian people,” Santos said.

    Santos’ inaugural ceremony was held in Bogota’s Bolivar Square before about 5,000 invited guests amid tight security. Most Latin American and Caribbean leaders, including presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, were present among 16 heads of state and some 100 international delegations.

    Mexican President Felipe Calderon said that the diplomatic crisis between Colombia and Venezuela should be overcome, since the most affected were the citizens of both nations.

    “I like President Santos, I had the chance to talk to him and we spoke frankly. I think he is open, comprehensive and has been committed to Colombia on difficult issues such as security,” Calderon said.

    Peruvian President Alan Garcia said that his country would continue strengthening ties with Colombia and wished good luck to Santos.

    Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said that now Colombia had entered an era of hope with the inauguration of Santos.