“We cannot continue to be the country of death”, proclaims the new president before 100,000 people at his inauguration
Colombia woke up on Sunday, August 7, the date on which 203 years ago it took the first step towards its independence, full of optimism, overflowing with enthusiasm and hoping to live a peaceful future, to enjoy a Colombia in which violence ceases and dialogue prevails over confrontation. Bogotá, the capital, seemed to be experiencing a carnival. Citizens from different regions had made a trip that they had called “a trip to celebrate that I am alive.” In his inauguration speech, Gustavo Petro agreed with them. “Colombia cannot continue to be the country of death. We have to build the country of Life. This is the government of Life and Peace », stressed the president, who did not forget the wounds caused by the violence that his country is experiencing in search of peace.
It was another historic day, that of the inauguration of the first left-wing government led by Gustavo Petro Urrego (62 years old), the 42nd president of this country, and who was elected by 11.3 million Colombians. A day in which Colombia was going to be in the mouth of the world and not because of drug trafficking or because in some rural area they had taken the lives of social leaders. A day in which he would receive the visit of several presidents from other countries and also that of King Felipe VI.
The streets of Bogotá woke up adorned with the colors of the Colombian flag. It was a day to forget the outgoing government and think about the one that has promised the social transformation of the country, in which it has assured that it will seek to unite that Colombia divided in two. There was an enthusiasm in Plaza Bolívar that very few remembered. More than 100,000 people chanted Petro’s name and sang “Petro, friend, the people are with you.”
It was a carnival, a desire to live as Vice President Francia Márquez herself has proclaimed throughout the electoral campaign: “We are going to live tasty.” It was all one big party. Petro’s wife and her entire family paraded, greeting many guests. But the president wanted to exercise from the first moment. He took command as soon as he swore to faithfully comply with the Constitution and Laws of Colombia.
The night before, Iván Duque, the outgoing president, had denied him having the urn with the sword of the liberator Simón Bolívar in the act of possession. Nothing else swore, Petro exercised. He first ordered the military forces to take that sword to Bolívar Square, and then he wanted a sister of former M-19 guerrilla Carlos Pizarro, Senator María José, to impose the presidential sash on him.
It was a very emotional act, but not without confrontation. Petro wanted to make a difference. And the military forces obeyed the order. That sword was stolen by the M-19 in 1974, a guerrilla movement to which Petro belonged and which later became a political party. He, who is a son of the peace process, wanted to underline that greater fruits are obtained from peace than from war.
“The Colombia of the possible”
The speech by Roy Barreras, president of the Senate, was the first to add water to the wine that was being tasted by the large audience that had gathered around Plaza Bolívar to experience a historic moment. At the end of his speech, Petro was moved when talking about the reconciliation of the country. “The can’t be over and it was always like that. Today begins the Colombia of the possible. Today begins our second chance. From today, I am the president of all of Colombia and of all Colombian men and women. It is my duty and my wish.”
The new president promised to fight corruption with a firm hand and without hesitation. He pointed out that he will apply a zero tolerance government. And he finally announced that he “will unite Colombia, between all of them. We have to say enough to the division that confronts us as a people. I don’t want two countries just as I don’t want two societies. I want a strong, fair and united Colombia. The challenges we face as a nation require a stage of unity and basic consensus. It is our responsibility.”
Petro ended his speech with a message that an Arhuaca girl told him when last Thursday he starred in a symbolic ceremony of possession in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. «To harmonize life, to unify peoples, to heal humanity, feeling the pain of my people, of my people here, this message of light and truth, spread through your veins, through your heart and become acts of forgiveness and global reconciliation. But first, in our hearts and my heart, thank you.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.