Peru Swears In New President

Posted July 28th, 2011 at 5:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Ollanta Humala has taken office as Peru's president, pledging in his inaugural address to ensure that all Peruvians will benefit from the country's economic growth.

Addressing Congress after being sworn in Thursday in Lima, President Humala said “economic progress” and “social inclusion” must work together.

Mr. Humala was elected on promises he would more evenly distribute the country's mining wealth and the profits of the country's recent economic growth. Thirty percent of Peruvians currently live below the poverty line.

In the campaign, however, Mr. Humala downplayed his former leftist economic stance. He has sought to reassure foreign investors he will govern as a moderate, retaining two members from the administration of his predecessor, Alan Garcia. Julio Velarde stays on as central bank chief. A deputy finance minister, Luis Miguel Castilla, has been named finance minister. Both men are seen as closely tied to Peru's recent economic growth.

A number of South American leaders attended Thursday's inauguration ceremony, including the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador. The secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, and the U.S. ambassador to Peru were also expected to attend.

Mr. Humala's former mentor, Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez, currently undergoing treatment for cancer, did not attend the ceremony.

Mr. Humala was elected this past June in a runoff, defeating Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori.

Mr. Humala made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2006. At the time, he opposed a free trade agreement with the United States and pledged to limit foreign investment in Peru. Mr. Humala has since moderated his political discourse and pledged to follow Brazil's market-friendly model.

President Humala is a leftist former army officer who launched a failed military coup in 2000 against then-president Fujimori. Mr. Humala's inauguration coincided with Peru's Independence Day.