Chile's incoming cabinet: Women, youth and a nod to markets

·2 min read

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile's millennial, leftist President-elect Gabriel Boric announced his first cabinet on Friday, giving a majority of posts to women and several to former student protest leaders while also reassuring markets by naming the Central Bank chief as finance minister.

Fourteen of the 24 new ministers are women, including Defense Minister Maya Fernández — a granddaughter of Socialist President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown by a military coup in 1973.

The Interior Ministry that oversees domestic security will go to Dr. Izkia Siches, who was recently head of the national medical association.

Communist Party legislator Camila Vallejo, who like Boric rose to prominence as a student leader, will be the government spokesperson.

The Finance Ministry goes to Mario Marcel, whose term as Central Bank president was widely praised by financial analysts. He had earlier worked at the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and in previous center-left Chilean governments.

“It is a very important signal of moderation and commitment to fiscal equilibrium,” said Loreto Cox of the School of Government at Chile's Catholic University.

Following the announcement, Chile's peso rose against the dollar and the local stock market surged — a sharp contrast with plunges for both in the wake of Boric's election victory in December.

Boric will turn 36 before taking office on March 11 and his cabinet includes at least six ministers under the age of 40, including those who led a wave of protests in 2011 for improved, free education. Among those is Congressman Giorgio Jackson of Boric's own Broad Front coalition who was named secretary general of the presidency.

“We have formed this team with people who are prepared, with knowledge, with experience, and committed to the agenda of changes that the country needs," Boric said.

Boric has called for modernizing Chile's public health sector, which serves 80% of the population, replacing the now-privately run pension system while raising benefits and increasing the minimum wage.

But his coalition has only 37 of the 155 seats in congress, so to achieve legislation he will have to work with other center-left parties that he has criticized in the past for being overly accommodating to conservatives.

His term will coincide with a public referendum on a new constitution that is being drafted by a constituent assembly, potentially changing the shape of the political system as a whole. The current constitution was adopted under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup against Allende.

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