Thousands of people, including United States Vice President Kamala Harris, witnessed Xiomara Castro's inauguration as Honduras' first female president Thursday, amid a sea of waving flags in the country's national stadium in Tegucigalpa.
Castro's inauguration brings to an end the eight-year rule of Juan Orlando Hernandez, a former U.S. ally who has been accused of corruption and ties to drug traffickers in U.S. courts.
Castro's government is confronted with numerous challenges, including a deeply divided Congress, soaring debt, high jobless rate, troubled health care and educational systems, and tense relations with China.
Harris, who was tasked by President Joe Biden with mitigating the root causes of migration to the United States from Central American countries Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, met with Castro following the meeting.
Castro, a democratic socialist, won a landslide victory in last year's presidential election, campaigning on a radical agenda to reverse years of corrupt and scandal-plagued governance. She campaigned on promises to end poverty and liberalize abortion laws.
In her inaugural address, Castro noted that it has been 200 years since "our independence was declared," adding that "we are breaking chains and traditions."
Castro has indicated that she intends to formally invite the UN to establish an anti-corruption mission in Honduras. The U.S., seeking an ally in the region, has been a strong supporter of Castro.
Biden pledged to take a more humane approach to migration than his immediate predecessor, Donald Trump, who deported migrants and separated children from their families.
Harris promised to collaborate on economic development, migration issues, and quelling impunity during a meeting moments after the ceremony, and expressed support for Castro's plans to seek UN assistance in establishing an anti-corruption commission.
Harris also pledged to send several hundred thousand additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as 500,000 syringes and $1.3 million for health and educational facilities in Honduras. She told reporters that the two did not discuss China.
Castro received the highest number of votes in the country's history, garnering 51% of the vote and 1.7 million votes, demonstrating the public's appetite for transformation.
Castro, 62, devoted her youth to family, marrying businessman and politician Manuel Zelaya at the age of 19 and raising their four children while managing his businesses, according to her Libre Party website.
Castro won the presidency on her third attempt. She previously served as first lady during her husband's presidency, Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in a 2009 military coup.