SANTIAGO – Minister of Education Marcela Cubillos resigned on Friday morning, Feb. 28, after a year and a half in her position. This was done so that she could be free to work on the “Reject” campaign for the Apr. 26 plebiscite. Her resignation was well-received because she was the minister with the worst approval rating.
On Friday morning, Feb. 28, Marcela Cubillos resigned from her post as Minister of Education, leaving Sub-Secretary Raúl Figueroa to take her place. Cubillos thanked President Sebastián Piñera for the opportunity to work in his government.
Agradezco al Pdte @sebastianpinera la oportunidad de trabajar por Chile en su Gobierno. Felicito a @raulfiguersa por su merecido nombramiento. Chile enfrenta definiciones fundamentales y tengo la decisión de asumir nuevos desafíos y ser parte del debate que viene. pic.twitter.com/k4iAAYjzLZ
— Marcela Cubillos Sigall (@mcubillossigall) February 28, 2020
Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, the leader of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party, tweeted that Cubillos had made a brave choice and welcomed her to the “Reject” campaign against the new constitution. Cubillos’s role has yet to be determined. As the ex-minister herself recently said, “My decision is to confront these new challenges and play a role, and work and cooperate in the upcoming debates.” When pressed for details on her exact role, she simply replied, “There’s still time to talk about that.”
Valiente decisión de @mcubillossigall. Una mujer con coraje y convicción, que ahora asumirá rol clave en la campaña #YoVotoRechazo, y que será un gran aporte para convencer a los chilenos de que el camino para mejorar el país no es una nueva Constitución ni una hoja en blanco.
— J Van Rysselberghe (@jvanbiobio) February 28, 2020
The president also tweeted that he was thankful for her work and that Figeroa will continue the mission of bringing quality education and facilitating freedoms and opportunities for all.
Reconozco y agradezco la gran labor de @mcubillossigall como Ministra de Educación. Formó un gran equipo y hoy @raulfiguersa toma la posta en la fundamental misión de dar educación de calidad, que hará posible un país de libertades y oportunidades para todos. pic.twitter.com/IKyqDztHlm
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) February 28, 2020
The Controversial Minister Cubillos
According to polls, Cubillos was the minister with the lowest approval rating, with 35% approval and 59% disapproval, mostly as a result of her decisions as Minister of Education, like the Aula Segura (“Safe Classrooms”) law or her handling of last year’s teachers strike. In fact, earlier in the year, the Teacher’s Association, had asked for her resignation so that the school year could begin with a new authority.
The daughter of Hernán Cubillos, one of the masterminds of the 1973 coup d’état in Chile, she studied at some of the best private schools in the country before graduating with a law degree from the Catholic University. It was there that she met the founder of the UDI, Jaime Guzmán, who inspired her to join. That is also why during the 1998 plebiscite she actively participated in the “Yes” campaign that was in favor of Pinochet remaining in power.
From 2002 to 2010, she was a congresswoman for the 21st District, representing the municipalities of Ñuñoa and Providencia. As a congresswoman, she opposed various progressive bills, like a proposed change to decree Nº 340, which would have prioritized the protection of the maritime environment, and she also voted against the law that made divorce legal in Chile—a decision that came back to haunt her when she herself got a divorce in 2006.
Diego Rivera is currently a senior in University, finishing up his audiovisual degree. You can find him on Twitter as @Piover45.