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Friday, July 29, 2011

Perú becomes 14th leftist government in Latin America

President Ollanta Humala, 17th president of Perú
Nationalist leader and former lieutenant colonel Ollanta Humala was sworn in Lima today as president of Perú. In attendance, there were eleven presidents mostly from Latin America, Cristina Fernández from Argentina, Evo Morales from Bolivia, Rafael Correa from Ecuador among others and dignitaries such as Nicolás Maduro Venezuelan Foreign Affairs minister and Cuban First Vicepresident José R. Machado Ventura, all of whom traveled to the Peruvian capital to be present at this historic event.

Humala, 49, is the 17th president in the republican history of Perú and assumes power amidst a wave of anticipation over the changes he has promised in terms of redistributing Peru’s mineral wealth beyond the usual recipients, and extend it to the poor, which are the majority of the country and have always been left behind.

Humala receives the presidential band
Humala is the fourteenth leftist president to take office in Latin America in what has become a trend in the political arena in a region that traditionally had been rabidly rightist. The turn to the left in this region is the effect of the failure of hundreds of years of neoliberal governments, which have been unable to provide a fair and sustainable solution to the mounting inequality and brutal poverty in the area. Their only contribution: the perpetuation of exploitation and marginalization.

The president greets cheering supporters
The new president’s pledges include modest old age pensions for Peruvians at age 65, beginning with the neediest; raising the minimum monthly wage to $270 by next year; free pre-schools in Peru’s poorest districts, college scholarships for top-performing needy students and building hospitals in 50 cities where they are lacking.

Humala has also promised to invest in public transportation in the congested capital of Lima; to expand highways and railways; to rebuild Peru’s merchant marine and re-establish a national airline which went bankrupt in 1999.

Humala's first speech as president
In his first speech after the assumed the post of president, Humala said that “we want the term ‘social exclusion’ to disappear from our language and lives forever”. It remains to see how the new president with a substantial opposition in Congress will be able to fulfil his plans.

President Humala has expressed the full commitment of his government to work towards the integration of Latin America, and if as to corroborate his statement, he chaired an UNASUR meeting that took place in Lima shortly after the assumption ceremony. Incoming Foreign Affairs minister Rafael Roncagliolo assured on Thursday that holding the summit in Perú reaffirms of the new government’s involvement in that respect, and concluded that “our countries united can become a world power”.

The new Peruvian government

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