SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said on Monday that he was overhauling his Cabinet, replacing eight ministers, including Interior Minister Andres Chadwick and Finance Minister Felipe Larrain.
“This is not the same Chile we had a couple of weeks ago. Chile changed and we have to make changes in the government to deal with these new challenges and times,” Piñera said, referring to the massive protests that lasted for 10 days and left about 20 people dead.
The new head of the Interior Ministry is Gonzalo Blumel, who had been serving as secretary-general of the presidency, while the Finance Ministry will now be run by economist Ignacio Briones.
Piñera named a new secretary-general of the presidency and secretary-general of the government, as well as new heads of the Economy Ministry, Labor Ministry, National Assets Ministry and Sports Ministry.
Five ministers left the government – Chadwick, Larrain, Economy Minister Juan Andres Fontaine, Labor Minister Nicolas Monckeberg and Sports Minister Pauline Kantor.
Chadwick, who is Piñera’s cousin, was harshly criticized for his role during the protests and the decision to deploy soldiers across the country to deal with demonstrators.
Fontaine’s standing was weakened after he suggested that people should get up earlier to avoid the Santiago Metro fare increase, the policy that triggered the protests.
Piñera’s new ministers are all younger politicians, with all of them less than 50, and he put more women in the Cabinet.
Among the women appointed to Cabinet posts was Karla Rubilar, who was mayor of the Metropolitan Region and will now be the secretary-general of the government, the official who serves as spokesperson for the administration.
Lucas Palacios, formerly deputy public works minister, was appointed economy minister, while Maria Jose Zaldivar, who had been undersecretary for social security, took over the helm of the Labor Ministry.
Julio Isamit, who is just 30, took over the National Assets Ministry from Felipe Ward, who will now serve as secretary-general of the presidency.
Cecilia Perez, who served as spokeswoman for the administration, is Chile’s new sports minister.