BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez took the oath of office for the second time Saturday, the only female leader in Latin America ever to have been reelected, in an inauguration marked by a tearful tribute to her late husband and political partner.
Fernandez, 58, held back tears as she pledged before Congress and a gathering of foreign dignitaries to honor the constitution and the memory of President Nestor Kirchner.
"I swear to God, the country, and the blessed saints to carry out the office of the president and to honor . . . the Argentine Constitution," said Fernandez, who wore a black dress with a wide belt and sleeves of transparent lace - mourning garb of the kind she has worn since Kirchner's death in October 2010.
"If I don't, then let God, the country, and him take me to task for it," she added, her voice cracking with emotion as she referred to Kirchner.
After accepting the wooden presidential baton decorated with a gold-and-silver version of Argentina's national shield, Fernandez remarked: "This is not an easy day. . . . Despite the joy, there is something and someone missing."
Fernandez summarized a litany of accomplishments during her first term, including policies that have led to the resumption of trials for former officials accused of rights violations during the country's last military dictatorship, from 1976 to 1983.
She said she hoped that by the time she leaves office in 2015, the country "will have closed the book" on the human-rights violations.