Chile’s Boric names female-majority Cabinet

By Maria M.Mur

Santiago, Jan 21 (EFE).- Chilean President-elect Gabriel Boric made political history Friday by introducing the first Cabinet in the Americas that has more women than men.

“Today we begin writing a new chapter in our democratic history. We don’t begin from zero, we know that there is a history that elevates us and inspires us,” the 36-year-old leftist who will become Chile’s youngest president when he takes office March 11 said.

Significantly, Boric selected Dr. Izkia Siches, 35, to occupy the powerful post of interior minister.

Siches, re-elected last year as chief of the Chilean medical association, was seen as a potential presidential candidate after making herself a trusted voice on public health during the Covid-19 pandemic, but opted instead to run Boric’s campaign.

Among the 14 other women named to the 24-member Cabinet the best known is Camila Vallejo, who worked with Boric when both were student leaders.

The charismatic Communist lawmaker is to serve as official spokesperson, a post that is part of the Political Committee, a kind of inner Cabinet, along with the heads of the interior and finance ministries and the presidential chief of staff.

In another innovation, the Political Committee will include the minister for women’s affairs, Antonia Orellana, in a nod to the role played by feminist organizations in the 2021 election.

Chile’s next defense minister, Maya Fernandez, is the granddaughter of Salvador Allende, the Socialist president ousted in the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that ushered in 17 years of dictatorial rule by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Antonia Urrejola, an accomplished attorney who chaired the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, will be the Andean nation’s top diplomat.

“We are going to make all the changes we have proposed, just as we said in the pandemic – step by step – because we are convinced that the vast majority of Chileans demand structural changes that make it possible to have a decent life,” Boric said.

For finance minister, the president-elect chose current central bank chief Mario Marcel, a political independent who is respected in business circles and has executive experience as budget director in the 2000-2006 administration of Socialist President Ricardo Lagos.

Marcel, future Economy Minister Nicolas Grau and Boric’s nominee to head the labor ministry, Jeannette Jara, will be confronted by a situation where the rebound from the pandemic has been hampered by inflation of 7.2 percent, the highest in 14 years.

“With enormous energy, we assume the challenge of consolidating the recovery of our economy without reproducing the structural inequalities. We are talking about sustainable growth, accompanied by an equitable redistribution of wealth,” Boric said.

Boric tapped his closest collaborator, Giorgio Jackson, to serve as chief of staff, a job centered on managing relations with Congress, where the president-elect’s party holds only 37 of the 155 seats in the lower house and five of the 43 Senate seats.

With that in mind, Boric found room in the Cabinet for figures from traditional center-left parties that did not back him in the first round of the presidential election.

“We are accompanied in this team by ministers of diverse origins and backgrounds,” Boric said. “A diverse Cabinet as our country is diverse.” EFE mmm/dr

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