Susana Villaran took office this week as the first popularly elected female mayor of Lima, in a ceremony attended by Peruvian President Alan Garcia and former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
Villaran gave an extended, emotional speech in which she outlined her government’s principal plans for the capital’s recovery and for making it “the great city of the (South American) Pacific.”
The mayor said her plans include reorganizing transport, fitting out the Costa Verde beaches for tourism, and building a great ecological park along the Rimac River, which runs through the Peruvian capital.
She promised a “concerted, inclusive, transparent and efficient” government that will not forget the “the legitimacy and power source: the people of Lima”.
Garcia applauded enthusiastically and congratulated Villaran after her address at the ceremony held in the Hall of Mirrors of the Lima Municipal Palace. He described the occasion as the “awakening” of Latin America. Also present were several Cabinet members, the ambassadors of Chile, Brazil and the United States, and municipal and local authorities.
Villaran, a teacher and human rights activist, was elected for the four year post of mayor of Lima on Oct. 3, defeating the conservative Lourdes Flores. However, the difference was so tight (38.022 votes) that a long vote counting process followed for weeks. According to the latest census figures Lima has a population of eight million.
A left wing collation last governed Lima from 1984-1987. She is the 344 mayor of the city since the foundation of Lima by the Spaniards.
Ms Villaran joins the list of Latin American women politicians that have surged to the political scenario: President Cristina Fernandez in Argentina; President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica; Brazil’s recently sworn in Dilma Rousseff to succeed Lula da Silva; former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet among others.