The President of Chile, Gabriel Boricannounced this Thursday that it accepted the resignation of the Minister of Social Development, Jeanette Vegaafter it was leaked that one of his advisers recently contacted by phone to the radical Mapuche leader Héctor Llaitul, arrested the day before.
(Read here: Chile: Boric’s project to reduce the working day to 40 hours per week)
“I have made the decision to accept the resignation of the Minister of Social Development, Jeannette Vega,” said the president during a tour of the north of the country.
(See here: Chile: Boric asks to respect the result of the constitutional plebiscite)
Vega, 64 years old and linked to the Social Democratic Party for Democracy (PPD), is the first minister to come out of the Boric government, a resignation that occurs five months after taking office and ten days before the plebiscite in which Chileans will decide whether to approve the proposed new Constitution.
The local media Ex-Ante revealed this Thursday a report from the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI) that indicates that a ministry official contacted Llaitul in May to try to schedule a conversation with Vega.
The communication took place the same morning that the leader of the Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM), one of the main radical Mapuche organizations operating in southern Chile, called for “organizing armed resistance” in response to the militarization of the area that Boric had decreed.
“We must be careful of the substance and also of the form. The facts that we have learned make it appropriate to assert the political responsibility of the minister,” added the president, who announced that the undersecretary Paula Poblete will assume the position on an interim basis.
It is not the first controversy in which Vega is involved, who in May, days after the contact between her adviser and Llaitul, acknowledged on local television that there are Mapuche political prisoners in Chile. Her statements unleashed a wave of criticism, including in the ruling party, and the former minister had to rectify hours later.
A court decreed this Thursday preventive detention for Llaitul, who was arrested the day before for the alleged crimes of “wood theft, usurpation and attack against the authority” and transferred to Temuco, the capital of the Araucanía region, 700 kilometers to the south. from Santiago.
There and in other southern areas, the so-called “Mapuche conflict” has existed for decades, a territorial dispute between the State, radical indigenous communities and forestry companies that exploit lands considered ancestral.
In this context, arson attacks on machinery and properties and roadblocks take place almost daily -many of them claimed by the CAM- and shootings with fatalities also occur periodically.
“The signals must be clear: yes to dialogue, no to violence. Those who do not understand this basic premise have a duty to confront the institutions of the rule of law that we from the Government are going to defend,” Boric warned.
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