Governor Liliana Kusanovic, from the extreme south Chilean Magallanes region has resigned alleging the need to care for family affairs and denying any link with January’s gas prices strike which paralyzed the region for a week. Ms Kusanovic’s resignation, which belongs to the ruling coalition, was accepted and made public Monday.
“It’s simply family reasons. I can’t dedicate 100% of the time to government. I need to look after family affairs, which are going through certain problems and they need my full commitment”• said Kusanovic during her last press conference as official in Punta Arenas.
Asked specifically if the January turmoil that left the region isolated from the rest of Chile, and also parts of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, had an influence on her decision Ms Kusanovic said “that those events are not an impediment for me to remain in office”.
“Once the gas prices crisis was over, it was an issue from the past. We are working hard to solve it; I admit it was a serious, complicated but we managed to overcome the bad moment and I believe we are in the course of solving it”, said the outgoing governor.
As to the role of the local government in Punta Arenas particularly regarding the protests over the gas rates which presumably were not anticipated, Kusanovic said that “we at the regional government worked intensely for the issue to be known at central government and we were all the time in contact with the Ministry of Energy, but from the Ministry we never received an instruction for a joint approach”.
“Therefore I simply became aware of what was happening on reading about it in the press, when the increase in gas rates was a fact”, she revealed.
“From that moment onwards we worked strongly from the Magallanes government to solve the issue trying to inform the central authorities all that was happening and furthermore emphasizing the needs of the region. We complied with our duty and with all which was requested from us”, added the former official.
Kusanovic suggested the name of the Economy Ministry representative in the region, Pablo Ihnen to replace her.
The former governor also revealed that last January she presented her resignation, a decision which was only accepted by government this week, following on a request from the central government to remain in the post until someone was named.
In Santiago Government House spokespersons Ena von Baer said “the governor has requested to address personal projects and therefore she asked about the possibility of leaving her post; the President (Piñera) has listened to that request”.
Nevertheless Santiago political analysts had long speculated that Ms Kusanovic would be leaving her post following the gas conflict, which could be delayed until the central government decided on an overhaul of names at other regions.