Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday was sworn in as Chile’s president for the second time at a ceremony held at the seat of Congress in this port city.
The 62-year-old former physician received the presidential sash from the hands of the new Senate leader, Isabel Allende, the daughter of late President Salvador Allende.
“Yes, I promise,” Bachelet, who previously governed from 2006-2010, said when Allende administered the oath of office amid applause.
According to tradition, departing head of state Sebastian Piñera placed on the presidential sash worn by Bachelet the O’Higgins badge, a five-pointed star that is a reproduction of the original, which was lost when the Chilean military attacked La Moneda palace during the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that toppled Salvador Allende’s Socialist government.
The ceremony concluded with the playing of the national anthem, which appeared to visibly move Bachelet.
Piñera left the hall to an ovation by those present, among whom were more than a score of heads of state and government.
Bachelet then swore in her new Cabinet, made up of 14 men and nine women, after which she left the hall to great applause.
The president personally greeted some of the attendees, including former Chilean Presidents Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei and Ricardo Lagos, as well as the foreign leaders who were at the ceremony.
Among the leaders in attendance were Cristina Fernandez of Argentina; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; Horacio Cartes of Paraguay; Jose Mujica of Uruguay; Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico; Dilma Rousseff of Brazil; Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Ollanta Humala of Peru, along with Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Bachelet returned to the presidency after beating conservative Evelyn Matthei in a December runoff.
At the head of the center-left New Majority alliance, Bachelet promised to bring far-reaching change to Chile.
Besides pledging to institute free public education and higher taxes on business, she has called for a new constitution to replace the one enacted by late dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose secret police were responsible for the death of her father, air force Brig. Gen. Alberto Bachelet.
The Pinochet regime killed more than 3,000 people and another 25,000 or so were tortured and lived to tell about it. Hundreds of thousands more went into exile, among them Michelle Bachelet and her widowed mother, though not before they, too, endured a stay in a secret police dungeon.