Chile's President Sebastián Piñera Monday appointed surgeon María Teresa Valenzuela to take over from pediatrician Paula Daza as Health Undersecretary. Daza turned in her resignation Sunday after announcing she was joining far-right candidate José Antonio Kast in his quest against leftist Gabriel Boric at the Dec. 19 presidential runoff.
Daza had first requested an unpaid leave Friday, but such a move proved detrimental for Kast's image as it drew criticism from most of Boric's political supporters.
Faced with that situation, Daza chose to resign.
Valenzuela has been an active member of Piñera's COVID-19 advisory committee and is a former director of the Institute of Public Health (ISP) between 2010 and 2013.
The new undersecretary is a surgeon from the University of Chile and has a Master's degree in Public Health with a mention in Epidemiology.
Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Jaime Bellolio was harshly critical of those who insisted Daza was wrong to request an unpaid leave of absence to join Kast's efforts
Those who raised their voice against Daza belonged to the “radical left, which are the same ones who were against the Step by Step, the vaccination plan that we have made, the Mobility Pass, who wanted a short circuit, who wanted hibernation: They began to criticize Paula Daza furiously and unfairly to hit her for her management of the pandemic,” Bellolio said.
”She had no obligation or need (to resign) because she was fully complying with the rules,” he added.
Daza had asked for 20 days of unpaid leave to support the Republican Party candidate. She planned to resume her duties, particularly in the fight against COVID-19, now in the face of the Omicron variant regardless of the outcome of the elections. Not anymore.
Daza even released a video on social media explaining the reasons behind her resignation.