Chile's President Gabriel Boric Font Thursday accepted the resignation of Minister of Social Development, Jeannette Vega, after the latter was found to have tried to contact a Mapuche leader arrested earlier this week for acts of violence.
I have taken the decision to accept the resignation of the Minister of Social Development, Jeannette Vega of the Party for Democracy (PPD). She became the first minister to leave Boric's administration just five months after the leftwing coalition was sworn into office and only a few days ahead of the referendum whereby Chileans are to accept or reject the new Constitution in a plebiscite.
Chilean Investigative Police (PDI) found that an official of the Social Development Ministry had contacted Mapuche leader Héctor Llaitul in May to broker a sitdown with Vega the same morning that the leader of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM) called for an armed resistance.
In accepting Vega's resignation, Boric explained that we must be careful of the substance and also of the form; the facts that we have known make it appropriate to assert the political responsibility of the Minister. He also explained Undersecretary Paula Poblete will take over the Ministry on an interim basis.
It was not the first controversy involving Vega, 64, who in May claimed there were Mapuche political prisoners in Chile and was forced to recant hours later.
Llaitul, the werkén or spokesman for the CAM, was arrested Wednesday and taken by helicopter to a police station in neighboring Temuco, capital of the Araucanía region and epicenter of the so-called Mapuche conflict under the State Security Act, which Boric had promised not to use during his campaign. The CAM periodically carries out arson attacks against large landowners in the south. Llaitul has been charged with theft of wood, usurpation and attempt against authority.
As a government, we want to confirm that the rule of law works and no one is above the law, said the Chilean Minister of the Interior, Izkia Siches, in a press conference at the presidential palace of La Moneda. Llaitul's arrest is part of an investigation started in 2020.