Chile’s Boric intensifies move to the center with Cabinet shakeup
By Maria M.Mur
Santiago, Mar 10 (EFE).- Chilean President Gabriel Boric announced Friday the second Cabinet shuffle of his barely year-old government, increasing the presence of the least radical elements of the broad leftist coalition that brought the former student leader to power.
“We need teams with knowledge of the state, with new energy, and also with the experience necessary to be able to respond to urgent demands without delay or excuses,” the 37-year-old head of state said after swearing in the new ministers.
The most significant change is at the foreign ministry, where career diplomat Alberto van Klaveren replaces Antonia Urrejola, a human rights lawyer whose tenure has been marked by a series of minor, but embarrassing controversies.
Alexandra Benado, who has been criticized for an ostensible lack of urgency as Chile prepares to host the Pan American Games in October, was removed as sports minister in favor of retired footballer Jaime Pizarro, a veteran of the national team who won titles with Colo-Colo as both a player and coach.
“What motivated me to make these changes are not political pressures nor minor gains, the goal is to improve our capacity for response and management in the face of the urgent needs our homeland has nowadays,” Boric said at La Moneda, the presidential palace.
But the Cabinet overhaul comes two days after the government’s biggest legislative setback to date, the rejection by the lower house of Congress of Boric’s proposal to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy to fund policies aimed at reducing income disparity in the Latin America’s most unequal country.
The shakeup marks a power shift within the governing coalition that bolsters the position of Democratic Socialism, the center-left segment of the alliance that backed Boric in the 2020 election.
“The original Cabinet that took office a year ago, more tied to the social activism world, has little-by-little been diluted and more control has been taken by people linked to the traditional parties,” Rodrigo Espinoza of Diego Portales University told EFE.
“Pizarro, Van Klaveren, and (new public works minister Jessica) Lopez are anchored in the world of Bachelet,” the analyst said, referring to two-term former President Michelle Bachelet, who governed as head of a coalition of Socialists and Christian Democrats. EFE