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Chile reform gets going as new ministers appointed

Guillermo Teillier, the president of the Chilean Communist Party, affirms the party's full confidence in the cabinet appointed by the president-elect, reports HUGO GUZMAN

THE Communist Party of Chile (CPCh) is “happy and very satisfied” with the ministers appointed to Gabriel Boric’s cabinet: “They are going to be very good ministers, they have complex tasks ahead of them, the three of them,” announced Guillermo Teillier.

He further said: “The government spokesperson (Camila Vallejo) is extremely important, Minister for Labour (Jeanette Jara) will have central issues such as decent employment, decent wages, pension reform, while Minister for Science and Technology (Flavio Salazar), will seek to encourage innovative development in the country driven by science and technology as Chile cannot continue to just sell raw materials — a process of national development to create an internal industrial strength must begin.”

Vallejo and Jara will be in very sensitive ministerial portfolios. “Won’t they be too overexposed? Is there a look of concern about this?” we asked. “Look, the ministers have just been appointed,” said Teillier, “and we will have to see the cabinet at work to give a more definite opinion. The important thing is that everyone has to be ready to fulfil the programme.”

On the incorporation into the cabinet of representatives of former Concentracion parties, Teillier said that it was “a decision by Gabriel Boric, backed by Apruebo Dignidad, to broaden the support base to address the situation of balance that exists in Parliament, where we do not have enough parliamentarians to pass the laws necessary for the reforms to come, and it was proposed that other parties enter the cabinet, and they did.”

He emphasised that “was the single purpose,” of the integration of representatives of organisations that are not in the Apruebo Dignidad alliance. The idea is to create majorities in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

This is a cabinet with 14 women and 10 men, has a balanced representation of political forces, there is diversity in academic and regional representation and, with an average age of 49, different generations are represented.

Teillier said he missed the presence of people from the grass-roots organisations and social movements but hoped that this would be resolved in some way with other government posts, especially where there is direct contact with the people, in the regions, on sensitive issues such as health, housing, the environment and employment. These sectors should participate in the government, which are not yet very well represented, he reiterated.

Teillier met with the president-elect for talks on January 20 and Boric confirmed that the electoral programme would be fulfilled — this remains unchanged.

On appointing Mario Marcel to the Ministry of Finance, who comes from the business and finance world, Teillier said it looked good, although we had differences on his performance at the head of the Central Bank. Adding: “Well, we have differences with many people or parties, but that does not mean that we are not going to stop promoting teamwork to the maximum. I prefer not to give my opinion before getting to know the work of the ministers. The general view is that it is a good cabinet, I make no exceptions. We absolutely respect the president-elect’s decision, and we are willing to work with this cabinet.”

Teillier made it clear, however, that the CPCh will have to observe the cabinet performance making the point that ministers can be changed at any moment. The overriding expectation is that this cabinet will work well, that its work will be successful, that it will take the most urgent measures first. In other words, that it will send a positive signal of its willingness to confront and resolve crucial issues.

On the present correlation of parliamentary forces complicating the government’s work in terms of the legislative agenda and the approval of reforms, Teillier said he believed it was indeed a difficult and complex task but thought that the task of the Minister of the Presidency Giorgio Jackson would be made easier by the fact of the representational plurality at ministerial level that should, in principle, facilitate agreements in Parliament.

Jackson has a great capacity for that, Teillier said as he has been an MP and knows the Congress perfectly well and the way in which laws are processed, how to talk to the different benches, and that is positive.

Hugo Guzman is editor-in-chief of El Siglo/The Century — the newspaper of the Communist Party of Chile.

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