María Ester Feres, iconic Director of Labor, dies

María Ester Feres, a lawyer and member of the Socialist Party, has died. She dedicated her life to the work world and was Director of Labor for more than a decade. Prior to that, her life was marked by exile due to the dictatorship.

At age 78, the renowned Director of Labor, María Ester Feres, a lawyer, trade unionist, and member of the Socialist Party, has died.

Her death was confirmed by the Socialist Party via Twitter: “We regret the departure of the distinguished comrade María Ester Feres, a long-standing lawyer, former director of Labor for many years, committed to the rights of workers. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. Honor and glory.”

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A life dedicated to work

A native of La Serena, Feres was born in 1943. She studied law at the Universidad de Chile. In 1973, due to the military coup, she was exiled to the Federal Republic of Germany. During her stay there, she worked in the War Victims Compensation Service.

In 1986, she returned to Chile, and began advising on legal matters and labor relations for the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores and the National Peasant Commission.

Thereafter, she was Director of Labor from 1994 to 2004, during the governments of Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and Ricardo Lagos, a position she left, after Lagos requested her resignation. 

She then devoted herself to academia, heading the Center for Studies and Counseling in Labor Relations, Labor and Social Dialogue of the Central University.

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“Unrestricted defender of workers”

Reactions to Feres’s death were swift and laudatory, such as those from Christian Democrat party senators Carolina Goic and Ximena Rincón, as well as the former president of the Unitary Union of Workers and current vice president of International Relations of the same organization, Barbara Figueroa, who remembered Feres as an “unrestricted defender of workers’ rights.”



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