SANTIAGO – After details of a pending corruption investigation against National Assets Sub-Secretary Alejandra Bravo were released, President Piñera asked her to resign. Bravo reportedly tried to bribe people with land in exchange for support for her political party. Bravo stepped down shortly after the president asked her to resign.
On Oct. 29, National Assets Sub-secretary Alejandra Bravo was accused of bribery by Social Democrat Radical Party (PRSD) Diputada Marcela Hernando, who asked National Prosecutor Jorge Abbot to investigate the case.
Then, on Nov. 4, after evidence was released, President Sebastián Piñera asked Bravo to leave office immediately, and Bravo complied.
Bravo is accused of offering land to those who enrolled in the new political party Nueva Clase Media (NCM), which she needed to inscribe if she wanted to have representation in the Antofagasta Region, as she was a member herself with expectations of becoming a parliamentarian. It was also reported that the president of NCM is none other than Bravo’s husband.
Although Bravo is now out of office, a National Assets representative confirmed that the investigation is ongoing.
According to documents published by BioBioChile, the group Atardecer Campesino attended a meeting in Calama, where they were promised property titles if they signed up with the NCM. There were also other meetings with the same purpose. WhatsApp messages and two audio recordings were also presented as evidence of the gatherings with “potential members” for the NCM.
In La Nación, Hernando explained how she acquired the evidence. “The first [piece of evidence] had to do with [Bravo’s] too frequent visits to the [Antofagasta] Region. Then I received the WhatsApp messages, but it wasn’t until I got the audio recordings that I could figure out a real crime.” She condemned Bravo’s actions and referred to the Calama citizens as victims, “because they are pressured under their needs for lands for their houses,” she said.
In one of the audio recordings, published by BioBioChile, a man can be heard trying to convince the citizens: “The Sub-secretary wants to run for parliamentarian of this new party, so she needs … our cooperation. … She needs our signatures, and then she will support us, that’s her compromise.”
The Government’s Reaction
President Piñera asked Bravo to resign after the information reported by BioBio was released.
With the ongoing political crisis in Chile, cases like Bravo’s are a test for the current administration, which must now try harder than ever to demonstrate a willingness to change and to react to abuse of power.
Hernando, who was first to denounce Bravo, published the government’s press release on Twitter. The release announces the decision to let Alejandra Bravo go in less than three lines, without mentioning any cause.
In the same tweet, Hernando celebrated the action: “surprising but gratifying the immediate reaction of the [government] … the fight against corruption must be relentless.”
In the La Nación article noted above, Hernando also expressed concern about the aftermath of the case against Bravo: “my only worry now is what will happen to all those people who complained about this to me, and all those committee members who may be affected [after Bravo’s bribery attempts],” she said.
Camila Huecho is a journalism student at Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, currently interning at Chile Today. As a freelance illustrator and Fellow at the Melton Foundation, she works to bring information and cultures together through communications and art.