The President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, announced on Thursday (25) that he accepted the resignation of the Minister of Social Development, Jeannette Vega, after the leak of information that one of his advisers recently contacted the Mapuche radical leader Héctor Llaitul, who was arrested yesterday.
“I have taken the decision to accept the resignation of the Minister of Social Development, Jeannette Vega”, said the Chilean president during a trip to the north of the country.
Vega, 64 years old and linked to the social-democrat Party for Democracy (PPD), is the first minister to leave the government de Boric, a resignation that takes place five months after taking office and ten days before the plebiscite in which Chileans will decide whether or not to approve the proposal for a new Constitution.
The local environment “Ex-Ante ” revealed this Thursday a report by the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI) that indicates that an employee of the Ministry of Social Development contacted with Llaitul in May to try to schedule a conversation with Vega.
The communication took place on the same morning that the leader of the Arauco-Malleco Coordination (CAM), one of the main Mapuche radical organizations operating in the south of Chile, asked to organize an “armed resistance” in response to the militarization of the area that Boric had decreed.
“We must be careful with the substance as well as with the form. The facts we have learned make it appropriate to assert the minister’s political responsibility”, added the president, who announced that undersecretary Paula Poblete will assume the post on a provisional basis.
This is not the first controversy in which Vega is involved, since in May, days after contact between her adviser and Llaitul, she acknowledged to a local television station that there are Mapuche political prisoners in Chile.
Her statements triggered a wave of criticisms, including in the ruling party, and the now ex-minister had to rectify them hours later.
A court on Thursday decreed the preventive detention of Llaitul, who was arrested the day before by the alleged crimes of “theft of wood, usurpation and aggression against the authority”, and transferred to Temuco, capital of the Araucanía region, 700 kilometers south of Santiago.
There, and in other areas of the south, the so-called “Mapuche conflict” has been raging for decades, a territorial dispute between do, radical indigenous communities and forest companies that exploit lands considered ancestral.
In this context, there are almost daily arson attacks on machines and properties and road blocks – many of them claimed by CAM – and periodically they also happen shootings with fatal victims.