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Biden arrives in Washington to take the reins of a country in crisis

Washington, Jan 19 (EFE) .- The president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, arrived in Washington on Wednesday to take the reins of a country overwhelmed by a convergence of crises derived from the pandemic and political divisions, which he trusts in facing with a resounding call to unity. Hours before becoming the 46th president in US history, Biden excitedly left the state where he launched his political career, Delaware, and flew to Washington to meet with what will be the country’s first female vice president, Kamala Harris. Together they participated in their first act in Washington before the inauguration on Wednesday: a tribute ceremony for the victims of the pandemic in the United States, where a few hours earlier the grim record of 400,000 deaths from covid-19 had been reached. A SOLEMN TRIBUTE “To heal we have to remember, and it is difficult sometimes to remember, but (…) it is important to do that as a country,” Biden said in a short and solemn ceremony in front of the Lincoln Memorial, one of the most iconic From the capital. Biden, Harris, and their partners – Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, respectively – fell silent as the outline of the reflecting pond in front of the Lincoln Memorial was lit, for the first time in history, with 400 lights depicting the lives lost due to to disease. “Tonight we come together and begin to heal together,” Vice President-elect Harris said shortly before. Hundreds of cities, towns and tribes in the country signed up for the tribute and illuminated at the same time (17:30, or 22:30 GMT) their most iconic monuments, such as the Empire State in New York or the Space Needle in Seattle. besides ringing the bells of their churches. AN ATYPICAL INVESTIGATION The ceremony set the tone for the atypical inauguration day this Wednesday, constrained both by the limitations derived from the pandemic and by fears of new violent incidents, after the assault on the Capitol on January 6. The streets of downtown Washington, normally packed before any inauguration, are surrounded by high fences and closed to traffic and pedestrians, under the watchful eye of up to 25,000 National Guard soldiers, five times more than there are. in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to that unprecedented deployment of security for a presidential inauguration, this Wednesday’s day will contrast with others by the absence of public on the National Mall, the huge esplanade that extends from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. To represent the Americans who, had it not been for the pandemic, would have traveled to Washington to see the inauguration, the organizers have arranged 191,500 flags of different sizes and types along that esplanade, illuminated by 56 pillars of light that They represent the states and territories of the country. THE GUESTS Only about 1,000 guests will be able to witness Biden’s speech in person from the west steps of the Capitol, compared to the 200,000 who used to occupy the seats of honor during previous ceremonies. Most are US legislators, although former Presidents Barack Obama (2009-2017), George W. Bush (2001-2009) and Bill Clinton (1993-2001) will also be present, along with their respective wives, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary. Clinton. The outgoing vice president, Mike Pence, will also attend the ceremony, unlike Donald Trump, who will be the first president in 152 years not to attend the inauguration of his successor, and will already be in Florida by the time Biden swears in office at the 12.00 on Wednesday (17.00 GMT). WHAT WILL YOUR SPEECH LIKE? Biden’s inauguration speech will last between 20 and 30 minutes, longer than the 16 that Trump’s did four years ago, and will have an optimistic tone, according to his team. “The speech is structured around the issue of unity,” one of his advisers told Efe on Tuesday, requesting anonymity. “He will reach out to all Americans and ask every citizen to be a part of trying to meet the extraordinary challenges we face,” he added. The source acknowledged that this call for unity occurs “at a time of unprecedented crisis,” not only due to the pandemic, but also due to distrust in the institutions and in the results of the elections that Trump has sown. 70% of Americans who support the Republican Party still do not believe that Biden was legitimately elected, according to a recent poll by The Washington Post and ABC News. That shows the magnitude of the challenge facing Biden, who will also begin his term just as he is about to begin an impeachment trial against Trump for his responsibility in the assault on the Capitol. However, the president-elect will come to power with an ambitious agenda, and on his first day in power he already plans to send an immigration reform bill to Congress and order the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate, among other measures. . Lucía Leal (c) EFE Agency

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