Two months after having won easily in the presidential runoff, Iván Duque of the Centro Democrático party has been sworn in as 60th President of Colombia. On a stage painted the party colour blue and before a poster with the campaign logo “El Futuro es Para Todos,” Duque took the oath of office from President of the Senate Ernesto Macia in front of thousands of well-wishers.
“This is a generation summoned to govern free of hatred, revenge and pettiness,” Duque said in his speech, as he became Colombia’s youngest president having just turned 42 earlier this month.
Though having resoundingly won in less than an hour after the final ballots were cast, Duque inherits a polarised nation. On the one hand, there are supporters of former President Uribe who view security as the cornerstone achievement to strive for. Even still, the dissenting left, led by defeated candidate Gustavo Petro, prioritise a nation that is at peace between warring factions. Demonstrations were organised in Plaza de la Hoja Bogotá and Medellín’s city center in an attempt to consolidate the resistance to uribismo in Colombia.
Both Uribe and Petro are sitting senators within the Colombian Congress and President Duque will aim to reconcile these more disparate elements of a divided republic. In his inaugural speech as President, Duque extended the olive branch to peace, saying that he “will look for opportunities for ex-guerrillas and the provision of resources for the entire country and especially for areas that have been hit by violence.”
For his part, Uribe, who is currently under investigation into allegations of witness tampering, congratulated the new President and Vice-president Martha Lucia Ramirez, the first woman to hold that office in Colombia.
Que Dios ayude a Colombia y al Presidente Iván Duque pic.twitter.com/3dg9hjnGX7
— Álvaro Uribe Vélez (@AlvaroUribeVel) August 7, 2018
Santos, meanwhile, has decided to retire entirely from the political limelight and, after having congratulated President Duque, also spoke of the importance of unity in a divided time: “Colombia, when united, becomes stronger. Our potential is enormous: let’s not allow polarization confine us,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
The spectacle of the inauguration ran the gamut from big band performances to the celebration of Colombia’s diverse military regalia. Political delegations from Panama, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador, among others, were in attendance. Duque also met with the US delegation which was led by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley prior to the inauguration.
The ceremony also typified windy Bogotá weather with the rain forcing many in the crowd to draw umbrellas. For his many supporters though throughout the country, however, the Bogotá weather didn’t rain on Duque’s parade. Their candidate will now have the chance to govern for the next four years.
President Duque will no doubt know this too. The campaigns and pageantry have ended and now begins the hard job of governing. The era of Santos has ended and the era of Duque has just begun.
*An earlier version of this article was published on our sister site The Bogotá Post.