Fourteen of Chile’s 24 new cabinet ministers are women, while several are former leaders of student protests.
Gabriel Boric, Chile’s newly elected left-wing president, announced his first cabinet, giving most of the posts to women and a few to former student protest leaders.
Fourteen of the 24 new ministers announced Friday are women, including Defense Minister Maya Fernandez, the granddaughter of Socialist President Salvador Allende, who was ousted in a 1973 military coup.
The Ministry of the Interior, which oversees internal security, will go to Dr. Izkia Siches, who recently headed the national medical association.
“We have created this team of people who are prepared, knowledgeable, experienced and committed to the agenda of change that the country needs,” Boric said.
The cabinet’s announcement comes after Boric, who turns 36 before taking office on March 11th, won last month’s presidential election.
He is running for a platform to modernize Chile’s public health sector, which serves 80 percent of the population, replacing the now privately run pension system while raising benefits and the minimum wage.
Social disparities in the South American nation sparked mass protests in 2019, igniting the fuse for the political rise of the progressive left and the recast of the country’s constitution from the dictatorship era.
“The cabinet’s mission is to lay the foundations for the major reforms we have proposed in our program,” Boric said after introducing his ministers, adding that he would seek to boost economic growth while eliminating “structural inequalities”.
“We are talking about sustainable growth, accompanied by a fair redistribution of wealth,” he said.
Communist lawmaker Camila Vallejo, who rose to prominence as a student leader as Boric, will be a government spokeswoman.
The Ministry of Finance goes to Mario Marcel, whose term as president of the Central Bank has been widely praised by financial analysts. He previously served at the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and previous Chilean center-left governments.
Boric’s promises during the election campaign to undertake major reforms of Chile’s market-led economic model have worried investors, although he has since softened his tone by boosting Chile’s markets and currency.
Boric’s cabinet includes at least six ministers under the age of 40, including those who spearheaded a wave of rallies in 2011 for improved free education. This includes Congressman Giorgio Jackson of Boric’s own coalition for the Wide Front, who has been appointed secretary general of the presidency.
But his coalition has only 37 of 155 seats in Congress, so he will have to work with other center-left parties he has criticized in the past for being too lenient with conservatives to pass legislation.
His term will coincide with a public referendum on a new constitution, drafted by a constituent assembly that will potentially change the shape of the political system as a whole.
The current constitution was adopted under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup against Allende.