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Kirchner Sworn in as President of Argentina - 2003-05-26


Nestor Kirchner was sworn in Sunday as president of Argentina, pledging to rid the country of rampant corruption and cure its economic problems. Presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba, Hugo Chavez, of Vewnezuela, and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil were among the heads of state who participated in the inauguration ceremony.

Calling for cultural and moral changes in Argentina, Nestor Kirchner assumed the country's presidency promising to address the serious internal issues that plunged the country into crisis.

After taking the presidential sash from his predecessor Eduardo Duhalde, Kirchner Argentina's sixth president in a year and a half, greeted deputies in the National Congress before leading a parade down the famed Avenida de Mayo and arriving at the presidential palace, the Casa Rosada.

The president, a center-left politician from Patagonia, has his work cut out for him: Argentina must renegotiate billions of dollars of foreign debt, work to secure a new deal with the International Monetary Fund and put a stop to the increase in unemployment and malnutrition.

Mr. Kirchner has been critical of the United States and the IMF and is often compared to several leftist leaders in Latin America, such as Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in neighboring Brazil.

The past 18 months have seen political and economic chaos in South America's second largest country. Now that political order has been restored, Mr. Kirchner must face the hard decisions fast or risk pulling Argentina further into economic crisis.

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