Photo: Gustavo Petro (L) and Francia Márquez (R) during the inauguration ceremony on Sunday, August 7. / Source: Long Visual Press/Alamy.
On Sunday, Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez assumed the roles of president and vice president, respectively, of Colombia in an inauguration ceremony held in the Plaza Bolívar of Bogotá. Several heads of state attended, including the king of Spain and the presidents of Chile, Ecuador, and Argentina. Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, who had committed to attending the event, was absent after his country’s legislature denied him permission to exit Peru amid an ongoing corruption investigation. The U.S. delegation was led by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power. Petro is the first leftist to be elected to Colombia’s highest office, and Márquez is the first Afro-Colombian woman to assume the vice presidency.
In his first address to the nation, Petro outlined the main priorities and expectations for his administration. He called on violent non-state organizations to disarm and pledged to implement the 2016 peace accord with the FARC rebel group. His administration has committed to peace talks with the ELN guerrilla group; the talks started in 2017 but ended prematurely in 2019 following an ELN attack against a police academy in Bogotá. Petro also called on the United States and other developed countries to change their approach to the global war on drugs, arguing that their strategy has fed violent conflicts in Colombia and the rest of the region. He also stressed the importance of climate change, emphasizing Colombia’s role in conserving the Amazon rainforest.