On Aug. 6, one day prior to being featured in a livestreamed inauguration ceremony as Colombia’s new president and vice president, Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez took part in a “Popular and Spiritual Possession” ceremony hosted by members of the country’s Indigenous, Afrodescendant, and labor groups.

In Bogota’s Third Millennium Park, the organizations presented Petro and Márquez with a “People’s Mandate” that, according to the groups, is an attempt “to harmonize the beginning of this new cycle in the history of the Colombian people with ancestral spirituality.”

The symbolic “Popular and Spiritual Possession” ceremony led to the inauguration ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 7—a historic moment when Colombia, for the first time in its history, became a nation governed by a left-leaning administration.

“Today begins the Colombia of the possible,” Petro announced as he took office. “We are here against all odds, against a history that said we were never going to govern…against those who did not want to let go of power.”

Petro later swore his vice president into office. When accepting her oath, Francia Marquez said: “I swear before God, the people of Colombia, and my ancestors, to respect the Constitution and to work for Colombians who have been historically excluded—so that dignity becomes our new normal.”

Francia Márquez Mina is the first Afro-Colombian woman to serve as vice president in Colombia’s history.

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