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Chilean president reshuffles Cabinet after overwhelming Constitution defeat

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SANTIAGO, CHILE - SEPTEMBER 04: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - "CHILEAN PRESIDENCY PRESS OFFICE/ HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----)The Chilean President Gabriel Boric delivering a speech after Chileans emphatically rejected a proposed new constitution in a referendum, in Santiago, on September 4, 2022. (Chilean Presidency Press Office - Anadolu Agency)
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Sep 07, 2022 - 04:03 AM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Chile’s President Gabriel Boric replaced six ministers Tuesday after a plebiscite saw voters overwhelmingly reject a new Constitution that he had supported.

Six months into his presidency, Boric announced replacements for the head of the interior, health, energy, science and social development ministries, as well as the secretary-general, who oversees the president’s legislative agenda.

“Chileans, I want you to know that I am making this cabinet change thinking of our country. It had to hurt and it hurts because it is necessary,” Boric said after swearing in the new ministers.

The change comes at a time of tension for the South American country.

A few blocks from the presidential palace, while the new appointments were made, students clashed with police, who responded by throwing water and tear gas to disperse protesters.

Hundreds of people came out to protest the vote Sunday, where 62% rejected the text of a new Constitution that embodied gender equality and Indigenous rights, expanded social protections and prioritized the environment.

It was a defeat for Boric, who presented the change to the Constitution as a solution to the social and political tensions that the country is experiencing.

Drafting the new Constitution began in 2019 after massive protests resulted in a first plebiscite where 80% of the population decided a new constitutional text should be made.

“Cabinet changes are always dramatic in Chile and this one has not lacked its dose,” said the president. “It is perhaps, I think I have no reason to hide it, one of the most politically difficult moments that I have had to face, and we will get through it together, for the Chilean people and for Chile.”

After the defeat, the president summoned all political forces to outline a new constituent convention. He met Monday with the ruling parties and plans to do the same with the opposition.

Boric, 35, won the presidential election in March, becoming the country’s youngest leader.

He played an important role in the 2011 student protests and came to power promising to address inequality by reforming Chile’s pension, education and healthcare systems.

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