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Juan Carlos Varela inaugurated as Panamanian president; takes steps to control food prices

  • Panama Presdiential Inauguration-1.jpg

    Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela delivers his speech after his swearing in ceremony as new president in Panama City, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. President Varela was sworn in at the Rommel Fernandez National Stadium before thousands of supporters and promised to introduce price controls on basic food products, which was a linchpin of his presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) (The Associated Press)

  • Panama Presdiential Inauguration-2.jpg

    Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela, left, waves flanked by his wife Lorena Castillo after his swearing in ceremony as new president in Panama City, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. President Varela was sworn in at the Rommel Fernandez National Stadium before thousands of supporters and promised to introduce price controls on basic food products, which was a linchpin of his presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) (The Associated Press)

  • Panama Presdiential Inauguration-3.jpg

    Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela, left, receives the presidential sash from Adolfo Valderrama, right, President of the National Assembly, during his swearing in ceremony as new president in Panama City, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. President Varela was sworn in at the Rommel Fernandez National Stadium before thousands of supporters and promised to introduce price controls on basic food products, which was a linchpin of his presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) (The Associated Press)

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.