Iván Duque Márquez

Inaugural Address by the President of the Republic of Colombia

delivered 7 August 2018, Bogota, Colombia

Spanish Language Audio AR--XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Spanish Language Text


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

Today a new generation is coming to the Presidency of Colombia, motivated by service and not by the vain exercise of power, committed to the future and without anchors and prejudices in the past, inspired by social justice and security as the foundation of our freedoms, and dedicated to promoting understanding, teamwork, and consensus building. It is a generation called to govern free of hatred, revenge, meanness and with the mandate of millions of compatriots to make our country a great land where the symbols of our tricolor regain their meaning.

On one occasion the famous Darío Echandía asked "Power for what?". His eloquent humility was an invitation to reflect and not to forget that governing is a path that only leaves legacies when it is based on principles. Unprincipled diplomacy is hypocrisy, unprincipled democracy leads to anarchy, unprincipled politics turns into corruption and unprincipled power quickly turns into authoritarianism. That is why I want to govern Colombia with unwavering values and principles, overcoming the divisions of Left and Right, overcoming with popular dialogue the hurtful feelings that invite social fracture. I want to govern Colombia with the spirit of building and never destroying.


This commitment I am making today is based on our history. Next year we will be celebrating the Bicentennial of Colombia's Independence and the full birth of our republican identity as a 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 Founding Fathers were able to leave their egos behind to forge a common purpose. The indelible imprint of Bolívar, Santander, Sucre, Córdoba, Urdaneta, as well as the brave lancers who rose in the battle of Boyacá to give us our freedom, should reaffirm to us how great we are and can be when we work with shared objectives. When we unite as a people, nothing stops us. When we come together, when we can contribute and accomplish all that we set out to do together, we are able to accomplish feats that even magic realism cannot imagine.

The past also teaches us that dogmatism can lead to failure. The dawn of independence was overshadowed by the Stupid Homeland (la Patria Boba), and during several decades of the Republic, the wars between brothers that left pain and death, and the quarrels of petty politics, brought institutional instability and delays in the development process.
Colombia's history shows us that we are a brave nation that does not let up at the first problem. And no matter how great the adversities may be, our desire to progress and succeed is greater. I never tire of saying that Colombia is RESILIENCE. We have been able to build a vigorous and productive apparatus amid three mountain ranges and difficult slopes, to become a thriving economy that the world recognizes and that has earned the respect of the investment community. We have been able to reduce poverty, expand the middle class and have health and education coverage that allows us to dream with better progress.

And may this also be the occasion to highlight the courage and fervor of our Military and Police Forces, which have faced the cruelty of criminals, the anarchy of terrorism and the greed of drug trafficking, always emerging victorious and demonstrating to the violent ones that they will never gain space in this democracy.

But, Colombians, analyzing the past must also be an opportunity to recognize that there are problems that have grown up, problems that have aged badly and have repeatedly become terrible threats.

This is what happened with the abandonment of many regions, with drug trafficking, with corruption, with clientelism, with the lack of access to opportunities for 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 that Colombia demands. There can be no selfishness in this task. Governing Colombia requires greatness to maintain what works, correct what is necessary and build new initiatives, institutions and programs that will secure our country in a genuine and powerful environment of SOCIAL JUSTICE.


Today more than ever we must be able to look at our Nation with optimism and without ceasing to face reality and call things by their name.

Today Colombia faces enormous challenges. We received a country where more than 300 social leaders have been assassinated in the last two years. Illicit crops have expanded exponentially. Criminal gangs are increasing their capacity for harm in several regions of the country. And promises and commitments have been made to social organizations without ensuring their funding.

Today I invite you to have the courage to recover the word of the State. The disorderly creation of agencies and programs is increasing citizen distrust and the frustration of the beneficiaries of these initiatives, including the victims and the regions hit by violence.

In economic matters, mistakes have been made that must never be repeated. A tax policy based on the expansion of spending has led to taxes becoming an asphyxia for many entrepreneurs, affecting savings, investment, and productivity. The mistake of having expanded the national budget, based on the illusion of a transitory oil prosperity, has brought with it the inability to set new revenues, but even more seriously, it led the State to make the serious mistake of pretending to exchange oil for taxes.

This, which was an unforgivable mistake, has hit the pockets of consumers and households.

The amount of cumbersome paperwork, the proliferation of formalities, added to the legal instability due to abrupt regulatory changes, has also brought about the deterioration of the business climate in sectors that are necessary for the present and future of the country.

We are hurt -- we are very hurt -- by the constant corruption scandals seen in the school feeding, in the health system, in infrastructure projects, in the abuses of direct contracting or in the dangerous cartels of sole bidders, which are delegitimizing the State, which have led to the waste of resources and which have deprived thousands of citizens of essential services and that is why we have to act with a vision of immediacy.


Knowing how to value what we are, what we are and have been as a country, is the basis for building a better future. Being honest and knowing how to call a spade a spade and approach challenges with optimism and commitment is what we must do. And this must be our task for the coming years. I invite all of you to build a great pact for Colombia, to build a country, to build a future and that above the differences there are the things that unite us.

It is not a matter of thinking alike, it is not a matter of unanimity, it is not a matter of avoiding the healthy discrepancies that are inherent to democracy. It is about being able to give life to consensus. It is also about being a great nation, a solid nation, and a safe nation. I have always said, and I will continue to say that what Colombians expect here are solutions and not aggressions. I want to be the President who forges and achieves those agreements thinking about what Colombia needs, without falling into the temptation of transitory applause.


That is the basis. That is the basis for dreaming and for dreaming of a Colombia of legality. I want a Colombia where we can all build peace, where those fallacious divisions between friends and enemies of peace end, because we have all wanted it and we all want to build it. Out of respect for Colombia and the citizen mandate we have received, we will deploy corrective measures to ensure truth and proportional justice for the victims, that they also receive effective reparations and that there is no repetition anywhere in the country.

We will also correct structural flaws that have become evident in implementation. Colombia's victims must be assured that there will be true moral reparations, material reparations, economic reparations from their perpetrators and that they will never, ever, be assaulted by impunity.
I believe in demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration of the guerrillas. Many of them were forcibly recruited or separated from their environment by the intimidation of weapons. I am convinced and committed to seek every day for the memberships of these organizations, productive opportunities and ensure their protection. And we will also strive for the provision of public goods in all regions of the country, starting with those that have been painfully hit by violence.
Colombians, we all must build peace and for this we must be clear about the importance of having a culture of legality based on the essential premise that in a society where security and justice go hand in hand, guaranteeing the application of the law, there will be no way for violence to threaten individual freedoms.

The time has come for all of us, absolutely all of us, to unite to confront illegality. That we go around the territory and tell all the armed groups that kidnap and traffic, that traffic in drugs and try to make profits by camouflaging their activities with ideological perfumes, simply that from now on we are going to declare before the Congress of the Republic with a constitutional reform, that neither drug trafficking nor kidnapping will be recognized as a crime related to political crime. And that from now on and under no circumstances can they be used to finance, promote, or hide any cause.

We will present this legislative act before the Congress of the Republic today.

Building peace, Colombians, also means defeating the drug cartels that threaten different parts of the national territory. We are going to be effective in the eradication and substitution of illicit crops together with the communities, in the implementation of productive projects and we are going to break the logistic supply chains of drug trafficking structures.
We will not allow the "dissidents", the "combos", the "clans" and the misnamed "offices" to continue doing their business on the Pacific Coast, on our borders or anywhere else in the territory. We will ensure the effective punishment of those who seek to reoffend or mock the victims by hiding assets or resources needed for reparations.

You can be certain that as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and in collaboration with the judicial authorities, we will act throughout the national territory and we will dismantle these organized crime networks and bring them to justice, enforcing the principle that you do the crime, you do the time.

I sincerely thank the countries that have supported us and expressed their support for this agenda. And I greatly appreciate the support we have received from the United States to be effective in defeating transnational crime.

I want to be clear. During the first 30 days of our government, we are going to make a judicious, prudent, and analytical evaluation in detail of the last 17 months of talks that the outgoing government has held with the ELN. We are going to meet with the United Nations, the Catholic Church and the countries that have been supporting this process, so that, within the framework of institutional independence, they can give us their opinion on it.

But I want to make it clear, I want to make it 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 to move forward we must give the signal that the Colombian people will not allow themselves to be intimidated by violence or pressured by violence in any way.

Legality implies that we work for citizen security. That we have mechanisms to geo-reference crime, that we dismantle the structures, that we prosecute drug traffickers who induce children into the tragedy of drugs, that we punish pimps, " Madams", rapists and murderers of minors and women with life imprisonment, and that we concentrate on a crime prevention agenda. Legality means that we form a society of values, that from an early age we educate in civics, civility, and respect. It means that we create that ethical wall that shields the hearts of Colombians from any temptation of criminality in strict adherence to family values.

I want to invite you to build a culture of legality by confronting corruption with all our strength. I promised Colombia that as President I would take on this task with enthusiasm and today, I announce that we will empower all the Colombian people to denounce the corrupt and let them know that we are all watching them, we will point them out and we will pursue them.

We will toughen penalties for the corrupt and ensure that sentences are not served under house arrest or are reduced. We will severely punish companies, their owners and managers who corrupt public officials, prohibiting them from contracting with the State in perpetuity. We are going to promote the standard bidding documents -- as we said in the campaign -- in all the sectors of the State and we are going to limit to three terms the presence in collegiate bodies of popular election. But we are also going to make crimes against the public administration imprescriptible1 and we are going to make the declaration of assets a duty enshrined in the Constitution.

Today before you, with pleasure, love, and complacency, I announce that today we are filing this anti-corruption package before the Congress of the Republic. Because the defense of public ethics belongs to all of us and together, we are going to build it.

The path of legality demands that we also work between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary in a reform of Justice that makes it more efficient, closer to citizens, more reliable and that allows us to guarantee the rights of all Colombians in a timely manner. The reform of Justice cannot wait, because judicial delay, prison overcrowding, interminable processes, or the precarious technology with which our judicial offices operate, has simply made citizens lose hope.

I want to propose to strengthen the first and second degree of justice in this reform of the justice system. That we propose to have an electronic file and, above all, that Colombians throughout the country feel that justice is their best guarantee that they can breathe freedom.
Legality also means improving the conditions of the Public Force, providing them with quality access to goods and services. It means that we quickly introduce the Veteran's Law. And it also means translating that law into better treatment by society for those who give their lives for us.

Today I want to tell the soldiers and policemen of the Homeland that we are going to promote a serious and rigorous institutional and legal framework so that they can fulfill their constitutional duty in strict adherence to Human Rights, feeling the wholehearted affection of the people. As our Father of the Nation Francisco de Paula Santander would say "a country that knows how to honor its heroes is a country that knows how to forge its future".

Legality means defending the lives of all Colombians and protecting the integrity of political and social leaders and our journalists.
Every homicide hurts us, every attack hurts us, every threat hurts us. And that is why we will work with the Ombudsman's Office, the Attorney General's Office, and the Prosecutor's Office to prevent violence against them and to exemplarily punish those who have acted as intellectual and material authors of the crimes and intimidations that mourn, that hurt, that erode the feeling of patriotic love.

This is everyone's task. Yes, it is everyone's, and all Colombians must reject any form of violence that seeks to silence the free voices of our citizens.

That legality built by the marriage of security and justice will guarantee us the balance that is on Colombia's coat of arms and says LIBERTY AND ORDER.


I believe that this Colombia of legality must also be accompanied by a Pact for Entrepreneurship. 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 of micro, small, medium, and large companies that progress in a sustainable manner to guarantee quality of life.
That is why we are going to propose an economic reactivation program that will allow us, with fiscal responsibility, to have a tax system that helps productive development, investment, formalization, productivity, and competitiveness.

We are going to eliminate unnecessary expenses in the State, we are going to make public administration more effective, we are going to adopt electronic invoicing and improve control systems, in addition to making the tax system more efficient, progressive, and equitable.

This will allow us to achieve the goal we set ourselves of increasing revenue while lowering taxes for those who generate employment and improving workers' income.

This rainy but at the same time joyful afternoon is the afternoon that must invite us to implement all the necessary structural reforms to guarantee the sustainability of our public finances.

We will ensure that our potential economic growth exceeds 4 percent of GDP.

We are going to make our economy free of unnecessary red tape. We are going to give productive sectors such as the agricultural sector the impetus to be able to bring investment and that this goes hand in hand with the promotion of the generation of quality employment, bringing public goods and stimulating the necessary marriage between agribusiness and small farmers.

We will work hard for the creative industries, for the Orange Economy. We will work hard for this country to have the possibility of seeing technological entrepreneurs as new protagonists of progress. That the internet of things, robotics, 3D printing, begin to be Colombia's center of innovation that we deserve so much.

All the productive sectors of the country can rest assured that we will not be hostile to any of them. You can rest assured that the State will stop seeing the productive sectors as a cash cow that is milked so that the State can spend more.

In our government, the businessman, the State, and the workers will work hand in hand, because the success of the workers and the success of the businessmen is the success that Colombia needs and the success that we are going to build.

We will diversify our production and exports so that we create mindfactures, so that we stop depending so much on resources that will eventually run out, and add value with our brands, our designs, our inventiveness, and our creativity.

I want the young people of Colombia to feel that here they will have a government where their creativity and entrepreneurial drive will be the protagonist of a generation that wants to conquer the world.
I want the words and dreams of actors, artists, photographers, filmmakers, digital animators, scientists, doctors, agribusinesses, and those working in biotechnology to take the place of terms that will end forever, words like ringleaders or bosses or criminals.

This Colombia is possible and that is the vision we are bringing to every corner of the territory.

This culture that comes with legality and entrepreneurship must have equity as its purpose.

This must be the government of social justice. This must be the government that knows how to close the gaps between rich and poor. This must be the government that closes the gaps between the regions that are on the verge of development and those that have felt forgotten because the State has not been present.

I want this longed-for equity to begin in education. We look to the Pacific, we look to La Guajira, we look to the Orinoco, to the Amazon, to many regions that have not always had the protection needed so that, starting with education, as throughout the land, there can be given the coveted right to have two meals a day, to have a full education from early childhood, to have double degrees for high school graduates, to have access to free university education, including using technology.
I want education to become the transforming tool that the young people of Colombia are clamoring for, so that they have the opportunities.
This Colombia of equity is also the Colombia of the health reform. The abuses of the EPS will come to an end. The abuses of those who have wanted to exhaust every medicine management will come to an end.
We are going to depoliticize public hospitals, to make the health system financially healthy, and listen well, we are going to make prevention, promotion and the patient, the objective of a health system with collective equity in mind.

This Colombia of equity is the same Colombia that demands that we pay attention to the elderly, that asks for a pension reform where subsidies are no longer concentrated only on those who have the highest income.
We want a pension reform for the poorest. We want the “Adulto Mayor” program to be able to receive resources monthly and that we progressively increase the resources for our grandparents, who need loving attention from the Colombian State.

Equity also means that in the housing programs we give room for improvement, we give room for lease-purchase programs, that we can take housing to remote places and that we allow families to build that dream of saving because they will have a financial system with products designed to alleviate their conditions and allow them to focus their lives on saving for their children and on having their own roof over their heads.
Equity means that we provide water and sewage in rural areas.
Equity means that no more children die of hunger due to lack of timely attention from the State.

Equity means building social peace.

Equity means that we will no longer resort to populism that pretends to reduce poverty by decree. We are going to reduce it because we will do it from a market economy but with a social sense.

We will do so because we have the patriotic conviction that in every place in the territory where a state program arrives, it must be focused on reducing gaps and providing opportunities, and never again on filling the pockets of the unscrupulous.

Equity means Colombians, let's bet on culture and sports.

I am convinced, as Federico Garcia Lorca once said when he went to inaugurate the library of his town, Fuente Vaqueros, in Spain, that we must give a loaf of bread and a book, because there is no worse hunger than the hunger for knowledge, which cannot be satiated.

And I want this to be the government that brings culture closer to the citizens, that brings music closer to the children, that brings literature closer, that brings the arts closer and that these are also the instruments where talent becomes wealth and opportunities.

This will be the government where equity also touches sports. We are not only going to promote that sports have a ministry with fiscal responsibility, but that we make sports a heritage where in all the regions of Colombia there will be high performance, there will be sports for coexistence and sports will become a serious deterrent to bad habits.
The Colombia that I invite you to build, to dream, to work every day and that involves all of us, that involves legality, entrepreneurship, and equity, also demands that sustainability and environmental protection be anchored in the minds and homes of Colombians.

We must propose that in these four years we grow renewable energies as never before, as never before. That we confront deforestation, that we promote electric vehicles, that we protect our watersheds, our moorlands, our underwater wealth, our mountain wealth. And that we have in every Colombian that awareness of reducing the individual carbon footprint and above all, that there is not a single productive sector that does not have the slogan of producing by conserving and conserving by producing. That respect for the environment.

This commitment we assume must also go hand in hand with this country's commitment to science, technology, and innovation.

We are going to reestablish the Commission of Experts. We are going to work with the universities, we are going to work to strengthen the royalty system so that the resources are not trapped and go to the research that is required.

And we are going to do everything possible, everything necessary to double the contribution of science and technology to the Colombian Gross Domestic Product.

That is the Pact for Colombia. That is the pact that we all must start building. That is the pact that begins by rejecting hatred.

All these national purposes, all these purposes that we want to build must go hand in hand with a country that also looks, before the eyes of the world, for cooperation with other countries.

And it also demands from us that in defense of democratic values, we reject any form of dictatorship in the American continent, that we denounce it and that we are not afraid to say things by their name. Because our attitude is not warmongering, our attitude is democratic, and we will be in all international scenarios defending the Inter-American Democratic Charter.


I, as a Colombian, have been traveling around the country for several years sharing these ideas.

We all must protect our territories, protect our borders, protect our wealth. We all must put on that shirt called Colombia.

We all must bet on a government that begins to make structural changes. And we have already begun to do so.

I am honored to begin this task alongside the first woman Vice President in the history of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

I am honored that during the campaign we said that we would have a cabinet of experts in their fields, who would not respond to political calculations but to their vocation of service and results. And we delivered for the country.

And I am also honored to have proposed to Colombians the first Cabinet with parity between men and women. And today it takes office in the Casa de Nariño.

That is the Colombia of the future, the one that is built from the present. Let us all work for this Pact. Let us not allow hatred to take away our hope. Let us not let the fractures that some promote distract us from that great objective.

No more divisions between Left and Right. We are Colombia.

No more divisions between socialists and neoliberals. We are Colombia.

No more ISMOS. We are Colombia.

I am honored to invite you to join us on this journey. It is an honor to be in this square with so much history.

It is an honor for me to speak to this country that I love with my heart and to all Colombians to whom I will dedicate this unavoidable commitment to serve them with affection.

Our government will be in permanent dialogue with the regions. We will be holding weekly workshops on Building a Country (Construyendo País), listening to the needs of the citizens. We do not intend to come up with miracle wands or imminent or immediate solutions. Many of them will take time and will require shared work, but we are going to start doing it.
I do not recognize enemies. I have no political contenders. My only desire is to govern for all and with all Colombians.

I have said that I do not intend to be a President with a high position and locked up in the Palace. My palace is the heart of the Colombian people.
Let's go, let's all get to work. We are going to work with the Congress of the Republic, we are going to work in harmony, looking for investments in the regions and strategic investments that have an impact on the quality of life of the citizens. But without gifts, without perks, without cushy job, without bureaucratic agreements, without "mermelada". Because Congress and the Executive work well when there is respect, when there is vocation.

And with Congress we are going to present a political reform to eliminate the preferential vote, so that we have democracy within the parties, so that we have public financing that always guarantees transparency.
It is impossible for me to end this speech without paying tribute to this Congress, where I spent the last years of my public life. Where I had the honor and privilege of working alongside the man who invited me to render this service to the homeland, former President, and friend Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Thank you for your service to the Homeland.

This Congress and the Executive are going to demonstrate to Colombia that we are capable of governing with a healthy debate of ideas in mind. That we will not be afraid to agree on policies, to seek what Colombia needs.


Today I feel proud to be your President. I am proud to give you, my life. I am proud to give of myself to you.

Today I pay tribute to my ancestors from Antioquia and Tolima.
Today I remember the memory of my father and his teachings of leading a public life with clean hands and always being ready to look with your body upright and with your head held high.

Today I am proud to share all my love for my mother, Juliana Márquez, to whom I owe her affection and courage for community service.

Today I thank my wife María Juliana, my children Luciana, Matías and Eloísa, who are my life and who have allowed me, with their love and understanding, to campaign, to serve in Congress and now to serve my country by giving all my strength every minute.

Let's go Colombians to work for progress! Let's work for development!

Let's go with illusion, let's go with joy, let's go for collective happiness!

May God bless Colombia.

Thank you very much.

1 meaning "absolute" or "inalienable"

Original Text and Audio Source: http://id.presidencia.gov.co

Transcript Note: Outsourced professional Spanish to English translation

Audio Note: AR--XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Page Created: 11/14/22

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