The vacations taken by the president of Chile, the conservative Sebastian
Pineraand 20 of his 23 ministers, one month before the end of his term, have sparked a bitter controversy in Chile, where he is criticized for allegedly “neglecting duties.”
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A controversy fueled, moreover, by the proximity of the beginning of the process of transfer of powers to the Executive of the leftist Gabriel Boricwhich will begin on February 21 and will end on March 11 with the inauguration.
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“Chile has been characterized by making the change of command in such a way that there is continuity in the functions of the State. In February we already began the meetings with the new authorities,” defended the Undersecretary of the Interior, Juan Francisco Galli.
Own Piñera began his break on February 1 for a period of two and a half weeksalthough he has participated in some activities during his days off.
According to sources from the General Secretariat of the Presidency (Segpres), only three of the ministers have not taken a vacation: Agriculture, Health and Defense.
The substitute minister of the Segpres, Máximo Pávez, justified that work is being done on the transfer ceremony, the administrative dimension of the transfer of information and the political meetings, which will take place at the end of February.
And he denounced that “curiously, it is criticized that the ministers in office who are ending the government are on vacation and the ministers of the incoming government are also on vacation,” he said.
President Piñera on vacation with crises in the north and south of the country. In any normal country, they crucify a politician who does that. But of course, we are not a normal country. Here everything happens.
– Marta Lagos (@mmlagoscc) February 3, 2022
Piñera will cede power on March 11 to incoming President Boric, a deputy and former student leader who will have the first cabinet in the Americas with more women than men and the most leftist since that of the ousted Salvador Allende (1970-1973).
The first of the ministers to be criticized was the chancellor, Andrés Allamand, who was out of office, on vacation in Spain, during a strong migration crisis in the north of the country with xenophobic marches, roadblocks and the massive influx of irregular migrants.
Allamand resigned from his position on February 2 after several days of questioning for “abandonment of duties” and two days later he assumed the Ibero-American General Secretariat (Segib). The absence of the Interior Minister, Rodrigo Delgado, also sparked criticism at times of tension in the southern part of the country, where there has been a bitter territorial conflict between forestry companies and Mapuche indigenous people for decades, which has recently experienced an escalation of violence.
“It was up to me to be a minister and it never occurred to me to take a vacation in February if I would be free in March. I always felt that the responsible thing was to serve until the last day,” said Sergio Bitar, minister during the first term of Michelle Bachelet, from Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) and Salvador Allende (1970-1973).
Most of the future cabinet is also on vacation, including Boric himself, who last December became the youngest and most voted president-elect in history after beating far-right José Antonio Kast.
The first to take days off was the future chancellor, Antonia Urrejola, who did not attend the presentation of the new cabinet on January 21. “I allow myself to briefly break the script: Antonia is not here today because she is with her family and we told her to stay there because we are very interested in our ministers being able to enjoy her families,” Boric said on that occasion.
According to sources from Boric’s team, in addition to the president-elect, most of the ministers took a break, including the entire political committee: the future Minister of the Interior, Izkia Siches; the government spokesperson, Camila Vallejo; the minister of the Segpres, Giorgio Jackson; the Minister of Women Antonia Orellana and the head of the Treasury Mario Marcel.
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