WASHINGTON - Xiomara Castro was sworn in as the first female president in Honduras on Thursday, a ceremony witnessed by thousands of people amid a sea of waving flags in the national stadium in the capital of Tegucigalpa.
Castro immediately faces multiple challenges: high unemployment, persistent violence, corruption and troubled health care and educational systems, along with pressure from the United States to make life better for Hondurans to curb their desire to make the long overland trek north through Mexico to try to migrate to the United States.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, tasked by President Joe Biden to try to mitigate the root causes of migration from the Central American nations of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to the U.S., attended the inauguration and was set to meet with Castro a short time later.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, right, attends the inauguration of Honduras' first female President Xiomara Castro at the National stadium in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Jan. 27, 2022.
Chief among the concerns of many in the region are crime, poverty and official corruption, leading thousands over recent years to decide that the dangerous trip north and the uncertainty of getting into the U.S. is nonetheless worth the chance.
Castro has said she plans to formally invite the United Nations to set up an anti-corruption mission in Honduras.
The U.S., looking to gain an ally in the region, has strongly supported Castro.
Biden pledged to adopt a more humane stance on migration than that of his immediate predecessor, Donald Trump, who sent migrants back to their home countries and separated children from their families.
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But Biden's eased migration policies have led thousands in Central America to view it as an invitation to migrate to the U.S., with uncertain outcomes when they reach the U.S.-Mexican border.
Castro won on her third try for the presidency. She was previously first lady during the presidency of her husband, Manuel Zelaya, which was cut short by a military coup in 2009.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.