Gustavo Petro became the first left-wing president in the history of Colombia on August 7. In his inauguration speech — translated by The Wire — Petro said: "We are here against all odds, against history that said we would never govern, against the same old people, against those who did not want to let go of power. But we did it. We made the impossible possible. With work, by travelling and listening, with ideas, with love, with effort. As of today, we begin work on making more of the impossible become possible in Colombia. If we made it here, we will make peace possible."
Regarding the war on drugs, Petro said: "The war on drugs has led states to commit crimes — our State has committed crimes — and it has blurred the horizon of democracy. Are we going to wait for another million Latin Americans to be murdered and 200,000 overdose deaths in the United States each year? Are we going to wait for another 40 years and for another million Latin Americans to die of homicide and 2,800,000 North Americans to die of an overdose? Or rather, do we exchange failure for success that will allow Colombia and Latin America to live in peace?"
On tackling inequality, Petro said: "Just 10% of the Colombian population owns 70% of the wealth. This is absurd and amoral. We must not naturalise inequality and poverty. We must not look the other way; let us not be accomplices. Through determination, redistribution and a programme of justice we will make Colombia more egalitarian and create more opportunities for all. Equality is possible if we are able to create wealth for all, and if we are able to distribute it more fairly. That is why we propose an economy based on production, work and knowledge. And that is why we propose a tax reform that produces justice."
Vice President Francia Márquez took her oath of office, swearing to serve as Vice President "until dignity becomes custom".
[Read Gustavo Petro's full speech at The Wire.]