(Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Youtube)
Chile, Latin America: Week in Review, Southern Cone

In Sweeping Move, Chilean President Appoints New Cabinet

May 12, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced the replacement of five cabinet ministers and the transfer of four others on Monday — a move characterized as “sweeping” and “ without precedent in recent Chilean history” — in a bid to overturn her government’s growing unpopularity. The announcement follows news on Wednesday that Bachelet had requested the resignation of all 23 of her ministers.

“Today, it’s time to give new impetus to the quality of our government,” Bachelet said, with regards to the cabinet shake-up.

Among the removed cabinet members are Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo, who was also Bachelet’s chief of staff and Finance Minister Alberto Arenas.

Bachelet’s approval numbers have plunged due to a series of corruption scandals in Chile involving right-wing opposition figures, but also members of her own family. Her son, Sebastián Dávalos, is being investigated for influence-peddling over his role in a bank-loan transaction made to his wife. The president’s disapproval ratings recently hit a record-high 64 percent.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexico is has opened bidding on its first batch of land-based oil concessions, opening a key phase in the historic privatization of its petroleum industry.
  • A woman claiming to be the person brought illegally to Mexico in 2007 has turned herself in to a court in Michoacán, which last month sent the wrong person back to Houston despite her protestations.


  • French President Francois Hollande has become the latest public figure to call for an end to the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, while in a visit to the island nation, the first taken by a major Western leader since the U.S. and Cuba agreed to normalize relations.
  • In response to a New York Times editorial which blames much of Puerto Rico’s economic strife on its political status, the U.S. territory’s non-voting delegate to Congress has written a letter calling for its full statehood.

Central America

  • As Guatemala reels over resignation of Vice President Roxana Baldetti in connection with a corruption investigation, the Supreme Court judge named in a wiretapped recording obtained by The Associated Press told the news agency late on Sunday that she does not know the man who promised she would release one of his associates, who was arrested for his own alleged role in the scheme.
  • Around half of Nicaragua’s electricity is fueled by Venezuelan oil, according to a new piece in the Christian Science Monitor, and the Central American country’s oil-dependence on Venezuela has resulted in an economic downturn as oil prices plunge.


  • Colombia has been cracking down on illegal mining in the Amazon region, with the armed forces raiding over 60 gold, tungsten and cobalt mine sites near the border with Brazil and Venezuela, arresting 59.
  • The U.S. Ambassador to Colombia said he respected Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ decision to temporarily discontinue the controversial coca crop eradication program due to health concerns, saying the decision is “Colombia’s to make,” in a public appearance Monday.
  • Bolivia authorized the extradition of Martin Belaunde, an adviser to Peruvian President Ollanta Humala who has been tied to a corruption scandal that could affect the President’s reputation, according to Reuters.

Southern Cone

  • The bank Citigroup announced that it has been sued by Argentina, its rival in a bitter dispute over a delinquent bond payment to hedge funds, and that authorities in the South American country may file criminal charges against some of the bank’s employees.
  • Paraguay has been condemned by UN health experts for denying a 10-year old girl raped by her father an abortion, a procedure which is illegal in Paraguay except in the case of a pregnancy that endangers a mother’s life, but not in the event of rape or the pregnancy of a child.

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1 Comment

Stan Squires says:

I am from Vancouver,Canada and I wanted to say that Michelle Bachelet should be condemning Israel instead of inviting an Israeli general to visit Chile.That was an insult to the people of Chile especially the Palestinian People living there.It is good that many people of Chile demonstrated against that reactionary atrocity by the gov’t of Chile.

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