LIMA – Francisco Sagasti assumed the presidency of Peru on Tuesday with the promise of imparting hope and confidence to the country, and especially its young people, following a week of political tension and repressive violence.
The new president was sworn in without a crucifix or bible for the first time in Peru’s history and only “for the country and all Peruvians,” before delivering a sensitive speech expressly dedicated to Jack Pintado, 22, and Inti Sotelo, 24, who were killed during the riots that marked the political and institutional crisis facing the country and that Sagasti must now resolve.
In a notable contrast to his predecessor, Manuel Merino, who in turn had assumed the presidency on Nov. 10 after the dismissal of Martin Vizcarra by the country’s Congress, a move the vast majority of the citizens considers “illegitimate,” Sagasti’s address was conciliatory and open, with winks directed at the youth and evidently aimed at national reconciliation.
The president, who has not yet confirmed who will be part of his government, said he will form a “plural” government that will be “a meeting point” for various ideas that “reach real commitments of shared action.”
Sagasti indicated that his first commitment and challenge will be to ensure that the elections scheduled to be held in April 2021 are “carried out smoothly and are absolutely clean,” while guaranteeing that the executive will maintain “absolute neutrality in the process.”
As a second pillar, he added that he will seek to face “the serious crisis caused by the pandemic on health and the economy,” with the promise of promoting quality public services in health and education, with special emphasis on promoting science and technology as solutions for both problems.
He also indicated that the government will work to improve “citizen security.”
“But the first thing will be to redouble efforts to find those missing and to exhort the Public Ministry to conduct in-depth investigations into the actions that caused the tragedy. There will be no impunity,” he stressed, in a clear reference to citizen demands after instances of police repression during the last few days.
The center-liberal leader also stressed that his executive will have “responsible management of finances” and promised that there will be “economic stability and fiscal balance.”
“We are mindful of the lessons of disregarding this fundamental condition for the better distribution of wealth, stability and fiscal balance,” he said.
In this sense, he warned lawmakers of spending proposals that “face the reality of very small public coffers, with a revenue that has fallen and huge difficulties in balancing the budget.”
“We will attend to the most urgent matters, and we will do so to ensure stability and balance, because if we do not do it, the whole country loses, and if it is lost, we will have unemployment and inflation,” he added.
In another direct response to the demands on the streets, Sagasti said that he will promote the independence of organizations such as the central bank, the office of the attorney general, and the public radio and television services, so that they serve the “State and not the government.”
Strengthening education, especially the National Superintendency of Higher University Education, the body in charge of overseeing university reform, will also be one of his priorities.
In addition, the fight against corruption, “wherever it comes from and wherever it is,” will also be part of his policies, he concluded.