POLITICS Social Crisis

Update: President Piñera Makes Eight Cabinet Changes

SANTIAGO — Following the President’s call for ministers to resign, President Piñera announced eight changes in his cabinet. The major change was the replacement of Andrés Chadwick as Minister of the Interior. The change has been criticized for being purely “cosmetic.”

At midday on Oct. 28, the government officially announced the replacement of eight ministers.

The most significant change was the resignation of Minister of the Interior Andrés Chadwick, following numerous accusations of human rights violations during recent protests.

Gonzalo Blumel, civil engineer and a member of the Political Evolution party will be his successor.

The New Cabinet

The full replacements of the cabinet are as following:

  • Minister of the Interior — Gonzalo Blumel replaces Andrés Chadwick
  • Minister of Finance — Ignacio Briones replaces Felipe Larraín
  • Minister of the General Secretariat to the Presidency — Felipe Ward replaces Gonzalo Blumel
  • Minister of the General Secretariat of Government — Karla Rubilar replaces Cecilia Pérez
  • Minister for Economy, Development, and Reconstruction — Lucas Palacios replaces Juan Andrés Fontaine
  • Minister of Labor — María José Zaldívar replaces Nicolás Monckeberg
  • Minister of National Assets — Julio Isamit replaces Felipe Ward
  • Minister of Sport — Cecilia Pérez replaces Pauline Kantor

The president did not change every position in the cabinet. The Minister of Education Marcela Cubillos, the Minister of Health Jaime Mañalich, head of Transportation Gloria Hutt and Under Secretary of the Interior Rodrigo Ubilla will all continue in their role.

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Inner Circle

Blumel is “the last survivor” of the so-called “Apoquindo 3000,” the small group of political figures who have supported Piñera since his presidential campaign. The rest of the politicians are no longer in government or maintain much lower positions. 

In Piñera’s inauguration speech on Dec. 17, 2017, the newly-elected president thankedin a very special way Andrés Chadwick, Cecilia Pérez, Gonzalo Blumel and Magdalena Díaz.” 

This group of ministers have remained loyal to Piñera since his presidential campaign, supporting him over the last few years as executives of the Avanza Chile Foundation. This is the non-profit organization that Piñera founded in 2014 which operated as a source of opposition to Michelle Bachelet’s government.

It has kept a low profile since Piñera’s inauguration however it is extremely notable that a number of executives on the board are or were ministers in Piñera’s government. The group was dubbed the “Apoquindo 3000” after the address of the organization’s headquarters.

Speaking to La Tercera in 2017, Blumel denied being Piñera’s lackey and affirmed that they “have a very horizontal relationship.”

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Responses

According to El Mostrador, Karol Cariola, deputy for the Communist Party, said that “the only thing [the president] continues to do is cosmetic changes.” She inferred that the president made no significant changes to his cabinet and only changed the superficial exterior.

The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Iván Flores, did not react so critically to the cabinet change but instead wanted to stress the need for a date to create a new constitution. 

BioBio Chile reported that he said: “We urgently need a change of direction,” which he believes that the government can only accomplish through a new constitution.

Jaime Parada, the first openly gay politician elected in Chile and councilman of Providencia between 2012 – 2016, tweeted his disapproval of one particular member of the new cabinet. 

He uncovered a number of tweets from Julio Isamit, the new Minister of National Assets, in 2011 which expressed intense dissatisfaction for the legalization of gay marriage. In the tweets, Parada claims Isamit is on track to receive “a master’s degree in facist-homophobia.”

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