The Chilean president, Gabriel Boric, has made his third Cabinet change this Wednesday in the 17 months of his Administration, which ends in March 2026. It is the first adjustment after, last May, in the Constitutional Council elections, the extreme right of the Republican Party will be left with 22 of the 50 positions in the body that drafts a new Constitution, with a strong defeat for the pro-government forces. The 37-year-old left-wing president has made changes in five portfolios -he integrates four new ministers and one changes the Secretary of State-, but he has not touched his political committee, the space where he makes the most complex decisions . It is, therefore, an adjusted change, with a depth that does not point to a strategic or substantive redirection, as the opposition and certain voices of the ruling party requested.
La Moneda faces a complex scenario: the Convenios case, a plot to divert public resources to private foundations linked to the ruling party -especially the Democratic Revolution (RD) party of the Broad Front, Boric’s coalition- have already brought down seven officials of the Government in the last two months. The loss of greatest political weight was that of Giorgio Jackson, founder and leader of the RD, the president’s greatest political ally and friend, who resigned last Friday and thus anticipated the Cabinet adjustment that Boric was preparing. . Relations with the opposition, especially over the Agreements case, are at a difficult time, although tomorrow the traditional right-wing parties grouped in Chile Vamos are summoned to La Moneda to discuss the fiscal pact and the pension reform.
These are the keys to adjustment.
Removed poorly valued ministers
President Boric has made changes focused on the ministers who, in his opinion, were not doing their job well. This is the case of Marco Antonio Ávila, a DR militant like Jackson -they were the only two Cabinet members of this party-, the professor who led the portfolio since the beginning of the Government, in March 2022. He faced various problems in these 17 months and he was about to leave the team of ministers in the previous adjustment, last March. In the midst of a great educational crisis, in July he was able to save himself from a constitutional accusation that sought his removal in Congress.
In his place, the head of state installed Nicolás Cataldo, a communist militant, who until today served as Undersecretary for Regional and Administrative Development, a highly relevant position in the State apparatus. It is an attempt to show that he will not accept vetoes of the PC – the most important party in his government – and a commitment to control the Teachers Association, the union that is mobilized by various demands.
In Culture, Boric chose to remove Jaime de Aguirre, the independent who came to the Government just five months ago. His management was marked by various controversies -such as the rejection of Chile being the guest of honor at the Frankfurt fair in 2025- and, in general, by little preparation for the position and a striking lack of political weight. The president decided to remove him despite the fact that the minister had in his hands the coordination of activities for the 50th anniversary of the coup in Chile, which will be commemorated on September 11. It is a sign that the adjustment could not wait, because La Moneda was betting that the change of Cabinet would take place after that date. Instead, Boric has nominated actress Carolina Arredondo, independent.
In Jackson’s position, in the Ministry of Social Development, the president installed Javiera Toro, from the Comunes party, from the Broad Front, who until today was the Minister of National Assets. This last portfolio has been left in the hands of Marcela Sandoval, journalist and former deputy, a DR militant. In the new Cabinet, she will be the only minister from this party who has been at the center of the Agreements case.
In Mining, Boric has chosen to remove Marcela Hernando, a member of the Radical Party, from the moderate left. In charge of the portfolio, he has installed Aurora Williams, from the Radical Party, as her predecessor, who led the portfolio in the second Government of Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018).
The spokesperson, intact
In this third adjustment of his Cabinet, the president has decided not to move the pieces of his political committee, where he makes the main decisions. The president chose to keep Camila Vallejo, a communist militant, part of the student triangle that made up Jackson and the president himself, minister spokesperson for La Moneda. The geographer has held the ministry of the General Secretariat of Government since March 2022, when the current Administration debuted, but her move to the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality or Social Development was being considered, a portfolio that has the fight in its hands against poverty and the implementation of public policies to overcome inequities. Since the explosion of the Convenios case, last June, the spokespersons on this matter are in the hands of the Minister of Justice, the lawyer Luis Cordero, so Vallejo’s work has had less prominence.
The president’s political committee, therefore, will remain intact and is made up of: Carolina Tohá (Interior, from the moderate left), Álvaro Elizalde (who manages relations with Parliament from the Segpres, socialist), Vallejo as spokesperson, Mario Marcel (Treasury, socialist), Antonia Orellana (Minister for Women, militant of the Social Convergence party of the Broad Front, like Boric) and Jeannette Jara (Labor, communist militant).
The Socialists retain Montes
One of the main focuses of attention in this change of Cabinet – which was fully anticipated by the local press early this Wednesday – was the permanence of Carlos Montes, the Minister of Housing, the portfolio where the Agreements case has been concentrated. A socialist militant, historical of the Chilean center-left, he managed to stay in the Government, where he made his debut in March 2022 after two decades in Congress as a parliamentarian. It was the main struggle of the Socialist Party, which leads the Democratic Socialism coalition, one of the two that supports the Government: the permanence of Montes. Last week, Jackson’s resignation from the Cabinet was preceded by strong public and private pressure from the Socialists on La Moneda to not allow the Minister of Housing to leave the Government along with the president’s greatest political ally, as Jackson himself and the Broad Front.
A change in the prelude to the meeting with the traditional right
The change of Boric’s Cabinet occurs hours after the traditional right, grouped in Chile Vamos, attends La Moneda to resume talks with the Government regarding tax and pension reforms. The meeting -Boric recalled today that he personally called the presidents of the UDI, RN and Evópoli last Monday to convene them- takes place after part of the opposition froze the dialogue with the Executive as long as the president did not remove Jackson from the team of ministers. The president of RN, Senator Francisco Chahuán, has reacted to the Cabinet adjustment: “Let’s change so that nothing changes. That seems to be the slogan of this government, ”he said in parliament.
The change of cabinet is more of the same. Cosmetic to get rid of problems and not a change of direction to face them. It is distribution of power among its militants. Bad ideas must be changed. Chile will not forgive corruption, insecurity and economic stagnation
— Javier Macaya (@javiermacaya) August 16, 2023
Boric himself, in his 13-minute speech after the ministerial change, described the political moment and delved, above all, into the commitment to agreements: “Today is a moment to respectfully face differences and find common ground. In that line, in the last weeks and days, we have all taken steps. Little ones, with mistrust and skepticism, but steps at last. Gestures that help concord and understanding”.
Women once again dominate the Cabinet
When President Boric assumed the Government of Chile on March 11, 2022 and swore in his Cabinet, there were 14 ministers and 10 ministers. For the second ministerial adjustment, last March, the team was left with 13 ministers and 11 ministers, three women less than when he took office. This afternoon, with the third ministerial change, women once again become the majority: 13 women and 11 men.
Changes in five sub-secretariats
The Chilean president has changed five undersecretaries this afternoon, the second on board in each of the 23 portfolios that make up the Government.
In the Undersecretary of Regional and Administrative Development, dependent on the Interior, he appointed Francisca Perales, an engineer from the Social Convergence party of the Broad Front, who worked as Undersecretary of Social Services of the Ministry of Social Development and Family.
At the Undersecretary of Defense, Boric appointed Ricardo Montero, a socialist militant who until today was the Chief of Staff of the Minister of the Interior, Carolina Tohá.
Suina Chahuán, an independent lawyer, joins the Mining Undersecretary, while Noela Salas, a Performing Arts graduate, cultural producer, artist and manager, and Social Convergence militant, joins the Undersecretary for Culture.
Sociologist Francisca Gallegos, a DR militant, who worked as head of the Social Promotion and Protection Division, of the same portfolio, arrives at the Undersecretary of Social Services, under the Ministry of Social Development and Family.
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