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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Extracts from Uribe's inauguration speech
Alvaro Uribe (centre), wife Lina Moreno (r)
Uribe: "Impossible to solve everything in four years"
Excerpts from the inaugural speech by Colombia's new President, Alvaro Uribe, in Bogota on 8 August 2002 in which he vows to fight political violence, drugs and corruption, but says he cannot promise miracles.

Trust and solidarity have declined in our country... The reason for it is the destruction wrought by violence, of political chicanery and of corruption, which combine to cause uncertainty, poverty and inequality.


[We] cannot ask small towns to practice austerity while those in high places waste money

Colombia faces a series of grave difficulties... It will be impossible to solve everything in four years, but we shall spare no effort to try.

Our work in authority will aim to prevent drugs and violence from moving into border areas. And, with the help of the government of each of those good neighbours (in the region), we will succeed in this, so that Colombia and everyone can recover peace of mind. This conflict must be stopped, or it may destabilise the whole region.

Our State is a giant of bureaucratic inefficiency in the face of the corruption, which abuses our political customs...

Our Community State will seek to ensure that funds and actions reach all, with transparency, giving people a greater part to play in the performance and supervision of public activities. The more we can encourage this participation, the more effective the effort to drive out corruption.

Cutting back Congress

The State cannot ask small towns to practice austerity while those in high places waste money. As an example to all, the reforms must start in the Office of the President, Congress, pensions, salaries, the elimination of political favours, inflated payrolls, and official entertainment.


A whole nation is crying out for respite and security

The revolution in communications will make it easier to have a smaller and less expensive Congress, with a balanced mix of representation and participation, more integrated with the public and more efficient in its work...

This afternoon a draft bill will be sent to Congress, calling for a referendum against corruption and political chicanery. This will open the door to austerity and to the transfer of funds for the revolution in opportunities, which starts with education.

A whole nation is crying out for respite and security. No crime can be justified, directly or otherwise. No kidnap can be explained away by political doctrine. I understand the grief of the mother, the orphan and the displaced...

I will support and sympathise with the forces of law and order, and we will encourage our millions of civilians to join us in assisting them...

We do not accept violence as a means of attack on the government, or as a means of defence. Both are terrorism. The only mission of the legitimate force of the State is to defend the community, and that force cannot be used to silence its critics.

Drugs menace

We are offering democracy, so that arms can be replaced by argument... We will not allow the long-standing struggle of the people to elect their next authority to be frustrated by the threat of a bullet.


We will start an administration which is honest, efficient and austere - it cannot work miracles, but it will work

I have asked Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, for the good offices of his organisation to seek useful dialogue, based on an alleviation of the situation of our society, and this must mean a cessation of hostilities.

The world must understand that this conflict requires unconventional, imaginative and transparent solutions. The agents of violence are funded by an international criminal business - drugs... If we do not drive out drugs, drugs will destroy our freedoms and our ecology, and the hope of living in peace will be no more than an illusion.

We will start an administration which is honest, efficient and austere. It cannot work miracles, but it will work.


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08 Aug 02 | Americas
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