Juan Carlos Varela has been inaugurated as president of Panama.

The former vice president issued a decree to control the Central American country's food prices after taking office Tuesday. He also announced an amnesty to allow gang members to surrender their weapons starting Aug. 1.

Varela was inaugurated to a five-year term in the capital's soccer stadium before thousands of supporters and dozens of hemispheric leaders under a cloudy afternoon sky.

The 50-year-old conservative politician pledged to govern with honesty and transparency.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou.