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Thursday, May 26, 2022
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Chile’s president-elect names progressive, majority-women cabinet

Chile’s president-elect names progressive, majority-women cabinet

Gabriel Boric, 35, picks youthful team including at defence the granddaughter of Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a military coup

Chile’s millennial president-elect, Gabriel Boric, has named a progressive cabinet, with a ministerial team which for the first time anywhere in the Americas is dominated by women.

Boric, a 35-year-old former student leader, will replace the billionaire rightwing president Sebastián Piñera on 11 March as he becomes the youngest president in Chile’s history.

Fourteen women and 10 men – with an average age of 49 – were named as ministers on Friday, in a cabinet which combines experienced moderates with former leaders from the 2011 education protest movement where Boric forged his political ideals.

“We have put together this group of people who are well-prepared, who have knowledge and experience, who are committed to the programme of changes that the country needs, and have the capacity to combine viewpoints, different perspectives and new visions,” said Boric at a ceremony outside Santiago’s natural history museum.

As Boric sets about healing the wounds of Chile’s incomplete transition to democracy after Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, his ministerial picks reflect his aim to build a fairer, more inclusive country.

Chile’s new defence minister is the granddaughter of the socialist president Salvador Allende, who was deposed in Pinochet’s bloody 1973 coup d’état. Maya Fernández, 50, will preside over long-overdue reforms of the military that overthrew Chile’s democracy.

The cabinet also includes two prominent former student protest leaders: Giorgio Jackson, 34, Boric’s political campaign adviser, will be secretary general, and Camila Vallejo, 33, a Communist party politician who preceded Boric as the leader of the University of Chile’s student union, will be the government’s spokesperson.

Dr Izkia Siches, 35, the popular former head of the national medical union, will be the first woman ever to preside over Chile’s interior ministry. At 32, the new minister for women and gender equality, Antonia Orellana, is the youngest member of the cabinet.

Among the moderate voices is the former Socialist party politician and current central bank chief Mario Marcel, a 62-year-old educated at the University of Cambridge, who has been named finance minister. Marcela Ríos, 55, a sociologist who has worked for the United Nations Development Programme for the majority of her career, will become justice minister.

Boric’s sports minister, Alexandra Benado, 45, is a former national team footballer whose mother was murdered by state agents while she was a member of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). She is the first openly lesbian minister in Chile’s history.

She is the coordinator of the Londres 38 memorial, housed in a discreet townhouse in central Santiago used as a torture and execution centre by Gen Pinochet’s secret police, the Dina.

Boric will be sworn in as president on 11 March.

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