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News > Chile

Pinochet's Grandniece Appointed Minister of Women’s Affairs

  • Macarena Santelices with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.

    Macarena Santelices with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera. | Photo: EFE

Published 6 May 2020

 From the government house, they named Santelices who has had some critical comments on human rights and has strongly defended the military dictatorship commanded by his great-uncle, Pinochet.

The government of Sebastian Piñera was once again involved in controversy by appointing Macarena Santelices, the granddaughter niece of Latin America's most infamous dictator, Augusto Pinochet, as the new minister of women's affairs and gender equity.

Chilean Police Violently Repress Protesters in Santiago

The appointment comes after almost 54 days without a leader in this crucial space after the resignation of Isabel Pla. From the government house, they named Santelices, who has had many outrageous comments on human rights and has vigorously defended the military dictatorship commanded by his great-uncle, Pinochet.

A journalist by profession and former mayor of Olmue (a small city northwest of the capital city of Santiago), she has always cultivated a strong and extremely critical perspective towards the left. She maintains a close link with the traditional Chilean right, especially with the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), which never concealed its support for the regime that lasted from 1973 to 1988 in Chile.

"I believe that life is made of rigor, of effort, and I am the daughter of merit. I have not had the positions for being someone's daughter or granddaughter. I have had the positions thanks to the work that I have shown to my neighbors, since I became a councilor, doing everything possible to take their needs forward," Santelices declared a few months ago.

"I really think that segmenting people by being on one side or the other is out of fashion. In Chile, we all want to get ahead; we want to grow, and we want to build," she added.

However, these statements did not convince social media users, where her anti-human rights statements went viral, such as "We can't ignore the good of the military regime," which she pointed out three years ago in an interview with the newspaper, El Mercurio.

During 2017, she also received heavy criticism for speaking about victims of human rights violations by saying that "every time they are in trouble, they speak about Human Rights. No more circus!" the tweet that has been heavily shared on social media.

Likewise, during the social explosion against the Piñera's government that shook Chile since Oct. last year, Santelices strongly supported the 'Carabineros' (police) and the Armed Forces, ignoring human rights violations and the mutilations left by police repression.

Meanwhile, feminist groups have also expressed their repudiation at the appointment of the relative of one of the dictators who has caused the most harm to Latin America.

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