Chilean President Bachelet Cleans House in Cabinet Facelift

EspañolMonths of pressure over corruption scandals reached a threshold on Monday, as Chilean president Michelle Bachelet unveiled her new roster of ministers.

Four ministers of the previous line-up were reshuffled to new positions, while 18 newcomers are filling vacant posts, after Bachelet demanded resignations last week. Key among the resignations is Finance Minister Alberto Arenas, who has been targeted by corruption allegations.

Another scalp claimed is that of Interior Minster Rodrigo Peñailillo, who has come under fire over his alleged role in a corruption scheme involving mining giant Soquimich (SQM).

Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz is among the few who have held onto their posts, as he is currently leading the Chilean delegation to the International Court of Justice’s, which is hearing Bolivia’s claim to sovereign access to the sea via Chile.

The Socialist Party (PS) retains only three of its five ministers in the New Majority coalition cabinet, while the the Communist Party (PC) is picking up some of the slack. Marcos Barazza is set to take the helm of the Social Development Ministry, joining his PC colleague Claudia Pascual, who currently leads the National Women’s Service.

The cabinet nevertheless lost two women members, meaning that 70 percent of cabinet posts belong to men. The average age of ministers is now 51 years old.

During a swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Bachelet told press that her government had entered a new “demanding and inspiring stage,” which required “renewed energies and new faces” to lead multiple economic- and social-reform initiatives.

Bachelet’s cabinet cull comes as her government faces 60 percent disapproval ratings over successive campaign finance, tax-evasion, and influence-trafficking cases — dubbed Pentagate, SQM, and Caval — affecting government and opposition parties alike.

Sources: Univisión, Emol.

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