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Chile’s women’s minister, Pinochet’s great-niece, resigns following backlash

The Guardian 10 June 2020

Charis McGowan

Chile’s women and gender minister, a great-niece of the late dictator Augusto Pinochet, has resigned after just a month following a furious backlash to her appointment and a string of misssteps in office.

Macarena Santelices stood down on Tuesday, tweeting: “The day it is understood that women’s rights are not political – that they belong to all and for all – we can move forward.”

Before she was named minister in May, Santelices, had spoken positively of the “good side” of Pinochet’s regime, under which thousands of women were subjected to torture and almost all female political prisoners endured sexual violence.

Once in office, she oversaw a string of controversial decisions, prompting the hashtag #WeDoNotHaveAMinister to trend in Chile.

On Monday, she named Jorge Ruz – a former tabloid editor best known for working on a reality TV show in which women are judged in a swimsuit competition – to head the ministry’s research division.

The Plurinational Feminist Assembly described the move as “unacceptable”, tweeting: “We demand her departure NOW.”

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