Chile’s President Gabriel Boric reorganized his cabinet for the third time in a year and a half on Wednesday as accusations of corruption and low approval ratings stall efforts to advance marquee reforms.
(Bloomberg) — Chile’s President Gabriel Boric reorganized his cabinet for the third time in a year and a half on Wednesday as accusations of corruption and low approval ratings stall efforts to advance marquee reforms.
Boric named Aurora Williams as Mining Minister, replacing Marcela Hernando, in remarks made during a televised speech. He also named new heads to the ministries of education, social development, culture and national assets, as well as five new undersecretaries.
The government seeks changes that “give us more security to go out into our public squares and streets, confront economic difficulties and live in a dignified way throughout our entire lives,” Boric said. “All of this is possible, and it depends on us. This team has a great responsibility.”
The reorganization comes days after one of President Boric’s closest aides, Giorgio Jackson, stepped down as Social Development Minister as authorities probe payments between public institutions and foundations. Jackson said he hoped his resignation, a key demand of the opposition, would help the government resume talks with rival political parties over key reforms, such as pensions and taxes.
Mauricio Morales, a professor of political science at Chile’s Universidad de Talca, said the cabinet change showed that Jackson’s Revolucion Democratica party had been weakened.
Meanwhile, the government has invited right-wing party members to the presidential palace for negotiations on Thursday.
The president’s approval rating fell 4 percentage points in the past month to 32%, according to pollster Criteria. The same survey showed corruption became one of voters’ top concerns, along with crime, health care and inflation.
Changes in the mining ministry come as the world’s biggest producer of copper and second-largest lithium supplier faces several challenges. The government has just raised taxes for copper producers and is pushing for new smelter projects, state-owned Codelco has seen its production and earnings plunge, and a new public-private participation model is being rolled out for lithium.
Williams served as mining minister under President Michelle Bachelet last decade, contending with a six-week strike that crippled output at the giant Escondida copper mine.
Suina Chahuan will leave her post as cabinet chief at the economy ministry to be Williams’ number two. Chahuan, a lawyer and political adviser, replaces Willy Kracht, a former director at copper research center Cesco, as undersecretary.
(Adds details on new cabinet nominations in second and final three paragraphs)
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