Xiomara Castro was sworn in Thursday, becoming Honduras’ first president to serve a four-year term. She then promised in front of an enthusiastic crowd to found “a socialist and democratic state”.
“I swear to be faithful to the Republic, to respect and enforce its Constitution and its laws,” said Ms. Castro.
The new left-wing president was sworn in in the presence of Luis Redondo, whom she recognized as president of Parliament, ignoring the crisis opened six days ago by two rival factions of her Free Party and which gave rise to scenes of fistfights in the tribune of the Assembly.
“The State of Honduras has been led to bankruptcy during the past twelve years” of management by the right, asserted the head of state in her inaugural speech to the crowd massed in the National Stadium of Tegucigalpa.
“I receive it in bankruptcy”, she was indignant, stressing that “the country must know what they (his predecessors) have done with the money”. Honduras’ public debt stands at $17 billion.
The president promised that until the end of her mandate in 2026, she will focus her efforts on “education, health, safety and employment”.
But the controversy within his party, where the two rival groups have elected two presidents of two competing parliaments, casts uncertainty over his ability to implement his agenda for the transformation of Honduras.
To reform the country, plagued by corruption and the influence of drug traffickers who have infiltrated the state to its highest level, Ms. Castro needs Parliament where her party and her allies do not have a majority.
The parliamentary crisis erupted when dissidents from Libre refused to honor an agreement between their party and allies of another left-wing party, whose support was instrumental in Ms Castro’s victory in the November poll.
Resolve the parliamentary crisis
Mr. Redondo, who girded the president with the blue and white scarf, symbol of his office, had opened a few hours before a session of “his” Parliament, in the official building, while the president of the concurrent assembly, Mr. Jorge Calix, remained silent.
In an attempt to resolve the crisis, the president-elect on Wednesday evening offered a high post in her government to Jorge Calix, who benefited from the votes of right-wing opposition deputies to be elected as president of the concurrent assembly.
The dissident thanked on Twitter for the “honor” done to him and promised a “quick response”. But this one is long overdue.
US Vice President Kamala Harris, Spanish King Felipe VI and Taiwanese Vice President William Lai, among others, attended the ceremony.
Ms. Castro was called a “communist” by her opponents during the campaign, but “the United States has understood that she does not represent a radical left,” said sociologist Eugenio Sosa of the National University of Honduras.
“There is a turn to the left (…) they want to make up for it with the arrival of Vice-President Kamala Harris, but in reality they are very committed to Venezuela”, denounced to AFP David Chavez , the leader of the National Party (right), now in opposition.
Xiomara Castro is due to speak with the US vice president on Thursday about ways to tackle the causes of mass emigration to the United States, a senior US official said.
“Ways to develop economic opportunities, fight corruption and humanely manage immigration will be among the topics discussed,” he said.
In her inauguration speech, the new president argued that 74% of the country’s nearly 10 million people live below the poverty line. (59% according to official figures, 71% according to a Honduran NGO).
“This figure alone explains the caravans of thousands of people fleeing north, to Mexico and the United States, in search (…) of a way to subsist, even at the risk of their lives” , said Ms. Castro.
Gang violence, which makes Honduras one of the most dangerous in the world (nearly 40 murders per 100,000 inhabitants), also pushes terrified inhabitants to emigrate.