News Americas, LIMA, Peru, Fri. July 29, 2011: The 97th President of Peru took the oath of office yesterday, independence day in the South American nation, just weeks after being elected, and vowed to help the poor.
President Ollanta Humala Tasso, 49, a former army officer, vowed “economic growth and social inclusion” as he promised to increase the state’s role in the economy and redistribute wealth to Peru’s poor majority, beginning with an increase in the minimum wages for workers to $270 by next year.
He also promised free pre-schools in Peru’s poorest districts, college scholarships for top-performing needy students and building hospitals in 50 cities where they’re lacking.
“Peru’s peasants and the poor in the countryside in general will be the priority,” said the new President in remarks before a newly installed Congress and dignitaries.
Humala, who defeated right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori in June’s second round election, also said he will adopt a more moderate left approach to running Peru, modeled on Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
He vowed to keep existing free-market economic and trade policies intact and to provide a minimum pension for all Peruvians over 65.
So far, President Humala has appointed the country’s first black minister in almost 200 years of history. Susana Baca, a renowned black Peruvian singer and Grammy award-winner, has been named as the country’s culture minister.
“We want the term ‘social exclusion’ to disappear from our language and lives forever,” Humala said.
Peru has been one of the top economic performers in Latin America in recent years, averaging annual growth of 7 percent growth, with inflation held at under 3 percent a year.