El Salvador's 1st Leftist President Sworn In
Vows to transform nation, praises Obama in inaugural speech
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2009 7:00 AM CDT
Mauricio Funes, the new president of El Salvador shakes hands with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the end of a joint news conference in in San Salvador Monday June 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/Luis Romero)
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(Newser) – A former TV journalist representing a party founded by Marxist guerrillas has been sworn in as El Salvador's first leftist president. Mauricio Funes, who ran on a center-left, pro-America platform, called Barack Obama an inspiration in his inauguration speech and singled out Hillary Clinton, who attended the ceremony, as "brilliant." "It's time to take a new road together in democracy," Funes said.

Funes was elected in March, breaking a chain of right-wing governments that have ruled since the 1980-1992 civil war that left 75,000 dead. Among other campaign pledges, he has vowed to create jobs and crack down on organized crime and narcotraffickers. In his first act as president, Funes restored diplomatic relations with Cuba—leaving the US as the only nation in the Western hemisphere with no ties to Havana.