The 44-year-old economist Santiago Peña was sworn in Tuesday as the new president of Paraguay during a ceremony at Asunción's López Palace attended by several current and former South American and world leaders.
Thank you for persevering, without fainting, in the construction of consensus and in the search for agreements. Today it is our turn to carry that political vocation to the service of all Paraguayans, Peña said in a message to former President Horacio Cartés, who is also his mentor and under whom he served as finance minister.
Peña called on all citizens to build a better nation and promised to work to achieve consensus and overcome what divides Paraguayans.
About a European Union donation in exchange for adding gender studies to school curricula which was turned down, Peña insisted his country will always negotiate without compromising its sovereignty, its territory, its values, or its culture. Our foreign policy is based on respect for national interests, effective diplomacy, the promotion of trade and investment, national security, and the promotion of our values and interests, said Peña.
The new president was also critical of some of the initiatives that fight against climate change because although well-intentioned, they could hinder the human development of the country in no way to be blamed for having contributed significantly to the generation of greenhouse gases.
Peña also promised to revitalize the economy, strengthen regional integration, and fight corruption. He underlined the importance of sovereignty in trade agreements and pledged to improve the quality of life of citizens with a focus on a more prosperous and committed Paraguay, which will -in his words- re-emerge as a giant during his five-year term.
Speaking in front of Presidents Alberto Fernández (Argentina); Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil); Luis Lacalle Pou (Uruguay); Luis Arce Catacora (Bolivia), and Gabriel Boric Font (Chile), Peña said he intended to turn Paraguay into the center of Latin American integration.
We will build alliances and cooperation with a geostrategic vision, seeking horizontal agreements, Peña also pointed out while highlighting his country's ties of more than six decades with Taiwan.
Peña promised business-friendly policies focused on job creation and low taxes to attract foreign investment to help the country recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and a drought that last year more than halved the soybean harvest.
He also said he would fight corruption in state institutions, as well as poverty that hits nearly 25% of the population. It is time for a pact to achieve the quality of life that Paraguayan families deserve, he said. Patience and tolerance are running out in the face of the weariness of the citizens who see their leaders fighting while there is a lack of supplies in the schools, medicines in the hospitals, and security in the streets.
He added that Paraguay was becoming the logistic center of the South American bioceanic road corridor strengthening integration with neighboring countries and Pacific markets.
The President insisted this trade corridor would boost Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance, promoting greater rapprochement between the two blocs. He also said that the region faces other strategic challenges that cannot be ignored and require a regional approach.
As for his domestic policies, Peña pledged to engage in the modernization of educational management, identifying priorities and urgencies and allocating the necessary resources promptly.