Possession’s speech of the President of the Republic of Colombia

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August 15, 2018


The Pact for COLOMBIA

Possession’s speech of the President of the Republic of Colombia

Iván Duque Márquez

August 7th, 2018

"Today from this majestic square that bears the name of our Liberator Simón Bolívar, I want to thank God and the Colombian people for giving me the honor of leading the destiny of the Homeland.

Today a new generation comes to the Presidency of Colombia, motivated by service and not by the vain exercise of power, committed to the future and without anchors in the prejudices of the past, inspired by social justice and security as the foundation of our liberties, and dedicated to promoting understanding, teamwork and building consensus.

It is a generation called to govern free of hatred, revenge, pettiness and with the mandate of millions of compatriots to make our country a large land where the symbols of our tricolor take back their meaning.

On one occasion, the famous Darío Echandía wondered: “Power? What for?” His eloquent humility was an invitation to reflect and not forget that governing is a path that only leaves legacies when it is based on principles. Without principles diplomacy is hypocrisy, without principles democracy leads to anarchy, politics without principles is transformed into corruption and unprincipled power quickly mutates to authoritarianism.

I want to govern Colombia with unbreakable values and principles, overcoming the divisions of left and right, overcoming with the popular dialogue the hirsute feelings that invite the social fracture, I want to govern Colombia with the spirit of building, never of destroying.


This commitment that I assume today is based on our history. Next year we will be celebrating the Bicentennial of the independence of Colombia and the full birth of the republican identity of the Nation.

This will be the government of the Bicentennial and we will all build the Colombia of the Bicentennial, for which beyond the traditional celebrations we must make deep reflections on our past and our future.

The Bicentennial should lead us to remember how our Fathers of the Nation were able to leave their egos to forge a common purpose. The indelible imprint of Bolivar, Santander, Sucre, Córdoba, Urdaneta, like the brave lancers who became bigger in the battle of Boyacá to give us freedom, must reaffirm how great we are and can be when we have shared objectives.

When we unite as people nothing stops us. When we all contribute, we are capable of realizing our own prowess that not even magical realism can imagine.

The past also teaches us that dogmatisms can lead to great failures. The independence dawn was overshadowed by the “Patria Boba” (The Foolish Nation), and during several decades of the Republic the wars between brothers that left pain and death, and the quarrels of the small policy brought institutional instability and delays in the development process.

The history of Colombia makes it clear that we are a brave, industrious nation that does not subside at the first sound. And no matter how great the adversities, our desire to progress is even greater.

I never tire of saying that Colombia is RESILIENCE. We have been able to build a vigorous and diverse productive apparatus in the middle of three mountain ranges and difficult slopes, until we become an impetuous economy whose potential does not cease to be recognized in the whole world. We have been able to reduce poverty, expand the middle class and increase health and education coverage. Impossible to forget are the courage and fervor of our Military and Police Forces that have faced the cruelty of criminals, the anarchy of terrorism and the greed of drug trafficking, emerging victorious and demonstrating that the violent will never win.

But analyzing the past must be the opportunity to recognize that many problems grew, did not have timely solutions and repeatedly were transformed into terrible threats. This happened with the neglect of many regions, with drug trafficking, with corruption, with patronage, with the lack of access to public goods in many communities.

Being a resilient nation that knows how to transform adversities into opportunities is the reason why we must take advantage of the Bicentennial to correct the past and build the future. There can be no selfishness. Governing Colombia requires greatness to keep everything that works correct everything that is necessary and build new initiatives, institutions and programs that will assure our country a future of SOCIAL JUSTICE.


Today more than ever we have to be able to look at our Nation with optimism without stopping facing reality and calling things by their name. We Colombians have enormous challenges.

We received a convulsed country. More than 300 social leaders have been killed in the last two years, illicit crops have expanded exponentially in recent years, criminal gangs increase their damage capacity in several regions of the country, promises and commitments have been made with social organizations without ensuring their financing.

We have to return the value to the word of the State. The disorganized creation of agencies and programs is increasing citizen distrust and the frustration of those who deserve to benefit with these initiatives, including victims and regions hit by violence.

In economic matters, there are mistakes that have been made and that we must amend. A tax policy motivated by the expansion of spending has led us to asphyxiating burdens and savings; investment, formalization and productivity are affected.

The mistake of having expanded permanent expenditures based on the illusion of a transitory oil bonanza, and then trying to substitute oil for taxes, affected employment generators and consumers.

The amount of cumbersome procedures and the proliferation of regulations, added to the legal instability due to abrupt regulatory changes and have brought negative effects on the business climate of several sectors that are necessary for our present and our future.

We are hurt by the constant scandals of corruption in school feeding, in the health system, in infrastructure projects, in the abuses of direct hiring or in the dangerous cartels which have delegitimized the State, squandered scarce public resources, deny to thousands of citizens the essential services and deserve our immediate action.


Knowing how to value what we are and have been as a country is the basis for building a better future. Be honest: knowing how to call things by their name and address challenges with optimism and commitment is what we have to do. This must be our goal for the coming years. I invite all of us to build a great pact for Colombia, to build a country, to build a future and to place the things that unite us above the differences.

It is not about thinking the same, it is not about unanimity, and it is not about eluding the healthy discrepancies of ideas that enrich democracy. It is about being able to give life to the necessary consensus so that we are a big, solid and secure nation.

I have always said and will continue saying: Solutions and No Aggressions.

I want to be the President who forges and achieves those agreements thinking what Colombia needs without falling into the temptation of temporary applause.


That is the foundation of thinking about an Agreement for Legality. I want a Colombia where we can all build peace, where those fallacious divisions between friends and enemies of peace end, because we all want it. For the respect to Colombia and for the citizen mandate that we receive, we will deploy corrective measures to assure the victims truth, proportional justice, reparation and not repetition. We will also correct structural failures that have become evident in the implementation. The victims must expect that there will be moral, material and economic reparation on the part of their victimizers and that they will not be attacked by impunity.

I believe in the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of the guerrilla base. Many of them were forcibly recruited or separated from their environment by the intimidation of weapons. I am convinced and committed to searching for the base of these organizations, productive opportunities and ensuring their protection. We will also strive for the provision of public goods in all regions of the country, beginning with those that have been hit by violence.

Colombians, Peace must be built by all and for that we must be clear about the importance of having a culture of legality based on the Rule of Law. Only a society where security and justice guarantee the application of the law, manages to defeat violence.

The time has come to prevent the illegal armed groups that kidnap and traffic drugs from earning profits by mimicking their crimes with ideological causes. We must simply make it clear that from now in our Constitution, drug trafficking and kidnapping are not crimes related to political crime or legitimate mechanisms to finance and promote any cause. Today I serve Colombia and I will take this initiative before the Congress of the Republic.

Building Peace requires us to defeat the drug cartels that threaten different parts of the territory. We will be effective in the eradication and substitution of illicit crops by the hand of the communities, in the implementation of productive projects and in breaking the logistic and supply chains of drug trafficking structures. We will not allow the "dissidents", the "combos", the "clans", the so-called "offices" to continue doing theirs on the Pacific Coast, in our borders and in our more remote regions. We will ensure the effective sanction of those who intend to re-offend or mock the victims by hiding weapons or resources necessary for reparation.

As commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and in collaboration with the judicial authorities, we will act throughout the national territory to dismantle the organized crime networks and bring them before the courts, asserting the premise: The one who does it, pays for it.

I thank many countries that have supported us and we will be with the United States in the fight against transnational crime.

During the first 30 days of our government, we will carry out a responsible, prudent and complete evaluation of the conversations process that has been carried out with the ELN for 17 months. We are going to meet with the United Nations, the Catholic Church and the countries that have been supporting this process, so that in the framework of the independence and the institutionally of the State, share with us the balance about it. I want to make clear that a credible process must be based on the total cessation of criminal actions, with strict international supervision, and defined times. We want to move forward but the Colombian people will not tolerate violence being legitimized as a way to press the State.

Legality implies that we work for citizen security. That we have mechanisms to locate the crime, that we dismantle structures, that we persecute the dealers that induce the children to the tragedy of the drug, that we sanction with life imprisonment to the pimps, to the "Madames", to the rapists and murderers of minors and of women and that we concentrate on the prevention of crime. Legality means that we form a society of values, that from an early age we form civic, urban and respect to sow in the citizens an ethical wall that complements the teachings of the home.

I want to invite you to build together the legality facing corruption with all our strength. I promised Colombia that as President I would assume that task with enthusiasm and today I announce that we are going to empower the citizens to denounce the corrupt and that they know that we are all watching them and we are going to point them out.

We will harden the sentences for the corrupt and we will apply to them that they do not enjoy house by jail nor reduction of penalties, we are going to sanction severely to companies, owners and managers that corrupt officials, prohibiting their contracting with the State, we are going to promote the specifications in all the contracts of the state entities, limit to no more than three periods the presence in collegiate bodies of popular election, make imprescriptible the crimes against the public administration and make the publication of the income statement of all the officials a constitutional duty. Today, with pleasure and motivation, I present this anti-corruption package to the country and Congress because the defense of public ethics belongs to everyone and together we have to achieve it.

The path of legality demands that we achieve between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary a reform to the Justice that makes it more efficient, closer to the citizen, more reliable and that allows us to timely guarantee the rights of all Colombians.

The reform to the Justice does not wait, because the judicial delay, the jail overcrowding, the endless processes, the precarious technology with which our offices operate, the risks of corruption and in many cases the lack of transparency and procedural and evidentiary coherence, they are eating away collective hope.

Legality also means improving the conditions of the Public Force, providing quality access to goods and services, and establishing the Veteran's Law in Congress that will result in greater well-being for our heroes. Also give the soldiers and police a serious and rigorous institutional and legal framework so that they can fulfill their constitutional duty in strict adherence to Human Rights, feeling the affection of an entire people. As our Father of the Fatherland Francisco de Paula Santander would say "a country that knows how to honor its heroes, is a country that knows how to shape its future".

Legality means defending the lives of all Colombians and protecting the integrity of political and social leaders and our journalists. Every murder hurts, every attack, every threat. We will work with the Ombudsman's Office, the Attorney General's Office and the Prosecutor's Office to prevent violence against them and sanction exemplarily the intellectual and material authors of the crimes and intimidations that have mourned our country. This task belongs to everyone. Of all, and all Colombians, we must reject any form of violence that seeks to silence the free voices of our compatriots.

That legality built by the marriage of security and justice guarantees us the balance that is carved on our shield with the words FREEDOM AND ORDER.


Just as we value legality, the time has come to make entrepreneurship the basis of our economic and social progress. Colombia must be a country where micro, small, medium and large companies progress in a sustainable manner to generate quality jobs. That is why we will launch a program of economic reactivation that allows us, with fiscal responsibility, to have a tax system and productive development oriented to investment, savings, formalization, productivity and the competitiveness of our economy.

Eliminating unnecessary expenses, making the public administration more efficient, adopting electronic invoicing and better control systems, in addition to making the tax system more efficient, progressive and equitable, we will achieve the goal of increasing collection while lowering taxes on job generators and we will improve the income of the workers.

I will implement all the structural reforms that are required to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the Nation and we will propose to consolidate a potential growth superior to 4 percent of the GDP.

Our economy must be strengthened every day. We are going to eliminate unnecessary procedures and make existing ones more expeditious, we are going to put an end to absurd regulations that expand the bureaucratic pilgrimage and create incentives for corruption. We are committed to legal security. and that Colombia is a country with the best regional conditions for the creation of new ventures where technology, services, B-companies, creative industries, tourism, agribusiness, among others, are milestones in growth.

All the productive sectors of the country must feel sure that there will be no hostility in my government that prevents them from growing and making Colombia grow.

In our government, we will diversify our production and our exports so that, in addition to manufacturing, we also reduce dependence on raw materials, adding value and positioning our

brands, designs and quality stamps. I want the young people of Colombia to listen to this with attention: We are committed to promoting the Orange Economy so that our actors, artists, producers, musicians, designers, publicists, jewelers, playwrights, photographers and digital animators conquer markets, improve their income, undertake successfully, position your talent and attract the eyes of the world.

Our vision of entrepreneurship is thought for the development of the field, stimulating that the small producers are integrated to the agro-industrial development. I want a dynamic investment field, triggered by incentives to generate permanent employment, a field backed by a foreign trade policy that opens markets and where we can apply effective instruments to the predatory practices of many competitors. A country that trusts its farmers, its producers and allows them to open up to the world, not only achieves food security, but also turns its fields into an engine of social transformation.

Colombians must complete the necessary infrastructure works for competitiveness, create the conditions for a greater investment in connectivity, assess the mining-energy sector and facilitate a better use of royalties for social investments, better compensating the producing regions in strict social and environmental responsibility.

The Colombia of entrepreneurship, the Colombia of business development, is the same that must look affectionately at the cooperative sector and all micro and small entrepreneurs who demand facilities, good treatment and less pressure from the State. Enough with the State that looks at micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs as a source of resources, today the State must see in them a strategic ally for the generation of quality of life.

A society of entrepreneurs allows us to see beyond the obvious. It allows us to be creators and not simply consumers of the ingenuity of others. It allows us to think big, to have multinationals born in our territory. It allows us to aspire to be the regional epicenter of robotics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, biotechnology and integrated data analysis. Colombia must enter this path, to be a decisive player in the fourth industrial revolution. I want that Colombia for our young people and we are going to create the conditions to achieve it. It is true that it will take time, but the time has come to begin.


The final purpose of legality and entrepreneurship is EQUITY. You have to defeat the exclusion. Colombia must reduce the gaps between rich and poor, eliminate the distances between regions that touches development and others that feel trapped in exclusion and misery, defeat the lack of access to public goods of many communities and propose to end extreme poverty in the coming years. I want our government to be remembered as the government of social justice, I want our government to be remembered for working for equity.

Equity is not generated by decree, even less in the pernicious illusions of populism that has caused havoc in several countries of the region. Equity arises from a country that generates a harmonious relationship between employers and employees, from a country that stimulates labor formalization and that provides education, health, culture, sports, housing, mobility, security and public services to the population in need.

To build equity we have to look towards the Pacific, towards our indigenous communities, towards the Orinoquía, towards the Amazon and towards many places of the territory hit by violence, by corruption, by the institutional abandonment of the State. We will be in all these regions acting with social dialogue and making decisions that allow us to correct the mistakes of the past. Social protest is a right and a mechanism of social expression but cannot be above the rights of other citizens. I understand the frustrations of so many Colombians but if we work effectively in social dialogue, identifying viable solutions, we will be more effective and constructive with the country.

Our equity agenda addresses education with a comprehensive approach to early childhood, expansion of the single journey with double feeding, promotion of training for employment and double degree, expansion of the free university for the most vulnerable and assessment of our teachers . Education will be the engine of social change that we are going to leave to our country.

My father and my grandfather were children of the Public University and I want to see it strengthen with academic excellence.

Equity requires us to face the health crisis as a priority. To clean up the system financially, denounce and defeat corruption, depoliticize public hospitals, incorporate the quality of service as an element of remuneration and sanction to the EPS, in addition to a system of prevention and effective promotion are flags that we assume with impetus. In our government, health will be focused on the patient and his quality of life. Equity means that we improve the conditions of the elderly, that we make workers' rights effective, that we make a sustainable pension reform that allows us to allocate subsidies to the poorest, and that we make housing programs the access road to property as a saving factor in Colombian families. Equity is to address and include the disabled population in access to opportunities and that ethnic minorities take visible leadership roles in government, the private sector and social sectors.

Equity is also the responsibility that as a society we have to serve our Venezuelan brothers as migrants and today they knock our doors.

Equity is to give life to Sports and Culture as means for talent to be translated into progress. We will value our ancestral heritage, our traditions, our Afro-descendant literature, our indigenous languages, and our folklore, to make culture a vehicle of social cohesion.


A country built on legality, entrepreneurship and equity, demands that we commit ourselves to the environment. In the next four years we will strengthen the National Environmental System, exponentially increase renewable energy sources, promote the massive use of electric vehicles, implement a national strategy against deforestation and create a collective culture of protection of our páramos, our sources of water, our biodiversity, while we become more conscious of reducing the individual carbon footprint. We will be a country that applies to all the productive sectors the idea of unequivocal respect to the environment under the premise of producing conserving, conserving producing.

The same must happen with Science, Technology and Innovation. We cannot see how we are lagging behind the world. We are going to revive the Committee of Wise Men created in the 90s, set ourselves the goal of doubling investment in the sector and better use the resources of royalties to apply knowledge towards the scientific future of the country.


All these national purposes have to be harmonized with our foreign policy. We are going to seek international support for our present and future agenda and we will act with convictions and irrevocable principles.

We will enforce the Inter-American Democratic Charter, we will promote the freedom of the people of the region and we will denounce in the multilateral forums, with other countries, the dictatorships that aim to subdue its citizens.

We will do it with words and arguments, without any warlike attitude.

We will protect our territories, our borders, our wealth and strengthen multilateral cooperation on investment, security, innovation, trade and science and technology.


That is the Colombia of the future that is built from this present. Let's all work for that pact that allows us to build the country we deserve. Let's not let hate interfere in this purpose, let's not let anything distract us from the path of union. No more divisions of left and right: we are Colombia, No more false divisions between neoliberals and socialists: we are Colombia, No more divisions between tendencies: we are Colombia.

I am honored to invite you to work together, to make history. It is an honor to embark on this journey with the first woman Vice President of our history, Marta Lucía Ramírez. It is an honor to have fulfilled Colombia with a cabinet of experts in their areas and motivated to serve the country and to give Colombia the first joint cabinet between men and women.

Our government will be permanently in the regions, dialoguing with the citizens, looking for options to meet their needs. We will not do miracles, but we will give everything for the future of Colombia. I do not recognize enemies, I do not have political contenders, my only desire is to govern for all and with all Colombians.

Our government will work to make substantial changes to the way we do politics. We will work with the Congress in harmony and seeking strategic investments for the regions, but without gifts, perks or bureaucratic agreements and we will promote a political reform that opens the space to eliminate the preferential vote, promote democracy within the parties and ensure the public financing of the campaigns.

It’s impossible not to remember today, with this Capitol that I have behind my back, my passage through the Senate of the Republic. A place that has harbored the words and debates of many of the greats of Colombia. There I had the honor of exercising politics with ideas and arguments and I got to fully know the challenges of our society. Without that experience, I would not have been able to give shape to the country project that united we will build in these four years. There I had the honor of working alongside a leader and a unique human being: Álvaro Uribe Vélez.

I want the Colombians to know that I will act with humility. I will not be a President locked in a Palace, because the only Palace that I hope to inhabit is the heart of Colombians.

Colombians: Today with honor I assume as President of this great country. I remember my ancestors from Antioquia and Tolima. María Juliana, Luciana, Matías and Eloísa: you are my life. I honor the memory of my Father, to whom I thank eternally for his teachings and express my love to my Mother and my brothers Andrés and María Paula.

I want the life of the Colombians to begin to change already. With hope, let us begin at this moment the path to happiness that corresponds to us as a Nation. Today I give my life to Colombia, to its citizens, to this tricolor that shines in the sky. Colombia will have two hundred years of republican life in 2019 and the Bicentennial should motivate us to the PACT for the FUTURE, to the PACT FOR EQUITY, to the PACT FOR COLOMBIA.

I call on all Colombians, workers, guilds , employers, syndicates, political parties, and social organizations to make this Pact a reality. I invite you to build a country, because this is everyone's effort. I invite you not to let anyone take away this dream. May God bless Colombia.

Thank you so much".