Right-wing economist Santiago Peña assumed the presidency of Paraguay on Tuesday, vowing to increase transparency in a country still under the shadow of a former leader who oversaw what the US government deemed "rampant corruption."
President Alberto Fernández, King Felipe VI of Spain, Taiwan Vice President William Lai and the leaders of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay observed as Peña took an oath and donned the presidential sash.
"I have the conviction that corruption problems are solved with an independent, impartial and swift justice," Peña said in his inaugural address while promising to implement "a clear, forceful, unwavering pro-transparency policy."
"Success is to make all Paraguayans better off and for the world to witness the resurgence of a giant," he added.
Peña, who at 44 became the youngest ruler of the democratic era in Paraguay, is considered the heir of former president Horacio Cartes (2013-18), for whom he had words of gratitude "for his perseverance and patience to build consensus."
Cartes, who leads the ruling Colorado Party that has dominated Paraguayan politics since 1947, is a tobacco tycoon linked to money laundering, tax evasion and other corruption schemes.
Early this year, the US government blacklisted Cartes, declaring that he "engaged in corruption before, during, and after his term" in power, including offering monthly bribes to loyal legislators.
Pena, in his speech, pledged to instruct all government offices to collaborate with the attorney general's office and international efforts to combat drug and human-trafficking and money-laundering.
"We are going to work hard so that politics stops being a temptation for organised crime," Peña said.
Peña pledged before the Taiwanese vice-president to maintain strong diplomatic ties with the self-governing island.
Paraguay is the only South American country that maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan and not with China.