Paraguay Former Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo, whose election broke a six-decade legacy of dictatorship and one-party rule, was sworn in Friday as president of this poor, landlocked nation in the heart of South America.
"Today a new Paraguay is born," Lugo told thousands of supporters and various heads of state assembled outside the congressional palace downtown in the normally sleepy capital.
"Today marks the end of an exclusive Paraguay, a secretive, notoriously corrupt Paraguay."
This nation of 6 million has hosted a fragile democracy since the ouster in 1989 of strongman Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled for 35 years under the banner of the Colorado Party.
But Stroessner's Colorados retained power until Lugo's inauguration - which is being widely seen as the nation's definitive transition into democratic rule.
Lugo became the latest leftist leader to assume office in a region that a generation ago was largely ruled by U.S.-backed military dictatorships. Left-leaning, democratically elected presidents from eight South American nations were on hand to pay homage to their newest colleague in an impressive display of solidarity.