Xiomara Castro has sworn in as the first female president of Honduras with a sea of waving flags at the national stadium as she took the reins of the country amid an economic and political crisis.
In the event with thousands of people present to witness the inauguration ceremony at a stadium in capital Tegucigalpa, Ms Castro vowed to restore the “broken” country she has got from the outgoing administration.
The 62-year-old leader blasted former president Juan Orlando Hernández’s administration for leaving her a heavily indebted country where poverty and lack of opportunities have driven hundreds of thousands of Hondurans to migrate in recent years.
“The economic catastrophe that I’m inheriting is unparalleled in the history of our country,” she said.
“My government will not continue the vortex that has condemned generations of young people to pay the debt taken on behind their backs,” Ms Castro said.
“We have the duty to restore the economic sector on the basis of transparency, efficiency, production, social justice, wealth distribution and national revenue,” she said.
Ms Castro had a resounding victory in the 28 November elections, with her appointment as first female president raising the hope for the women in a country which has been plagued with record rates of femicide in Latin America and some of the strong laws with regards to reproductive rights.
In her Thursday’s speech, Ms Castro guaranteed citizens “no more silence on femicides” along with other promises of “citizen security, no more death squads, and no more drug trafficking”.
Among the crowd, loudly applauding when introduced was US vice president Kamala Harris, who pledged US government support to Honduras to stem migration and fight corruption
She hailed Ms Castro over her “democratic election” and welcomed the president’s plans to request United Nations help to establish an anti-corruption commission.
Taiwanese vice president William Lai was one of the leaders who joined the ceremony. Honduras is one the few countries in the world that recognises Taiwan and have diplomatic ties with it.
Ms Castro’s husband is Manuel Zelaya, the country’s former president who held power between 2006 and 2009 before his government was ousted by a coup.
Ms Castro’s victory has marked the end of the 12-year rule of the right-wing National Party which was muddled with allegations of scandals and corruption.
With the country’s total debt standing at about $15.5bn, or nearly 60 per cent of the gross domestic product, the newly-elected president said it was “practically impossible” to make current debt payments without a restructuring.
She pledged to immediately give more than one million poor Hondurans free electricity, with bigger consumers subsidising the cost.