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Peru President Blessed in Inca Ceremony - 2001-07-29

One day after his formal inauguration, Peru's first democratically-elected president of Indian origin, Alejandro Toledo, went to the ruins of the ancient Inca city, Machu Picchu, to hold another ceremony.

Standing amid the splendor of the mountain city, where the Inca once held their rituals, president Toledo said he had come to seek the help of the mountain gods. He added that in doing so, he had fulfilled his campaign promise to hold a symbolic ceremony here at this sacred spot. Then the new president reiterated his pledge to fight against poverty and to promote economic growth in Peru.

He said he had come to stand within the marvelous walls that represent Peru's glorious past, to repeat his commitment to the fight against poverty. He said that he had come to be in touch with his roots, but that as he said in his speech on Saturday, his will be a government that includes all races.

Mr. Toledo also promised to boost tourism as an industry, in order to provide Peruvians with more jobs. He said that in spite of such wonders as Machu Picchu, Peru has attracted far fewer tourists than countries such as Mexico. He said Mexico hosts 25 million foreign tourists a year, while Peru has only 600,000. He said his goal is to have three million visitors to Peru each year.

At the beginning of the ceremony at Machu Picchu, Mr. Toldeo's Belgian-born wife, Eliane Karp, read a speech in both the area's native Quechua and Spanish. The multi-lingual first lady is expected to play a major role in the new government and has been described by some analysts as a "power beside the throne."

After the ceremony at Machu Picchu, President Toledo and his entourage went to the city of Cuzco, where a large Andean cultural celebration was underway.