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Boric’s government becomes entangled with the figure of the First Lady

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The President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, together with his partner, Irina Karamanos, in the first presidential speech, Santiago.Alberto Valdes (EFE)

Feminist anthropologist and political scientist Irina Karamanos, 32, friend of Chilean President Gabriel Boric, took on the role of First Lady last March with a commitment to restate and depersonalize that character. It was announced this week that the first lady’s cabinet was renamed the cabinet of Irina Karamanos by a resolution passed on March 30 and its functions expanded. The progressive government caved in less than 24 hours after the controversy erupted after receiving an avalanche of criticism from various political sectors. The right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party brought the case before the Comptroller’s Office, asking it to rule on the legality of the decision.

La Moneda called the matter an “administrative error” and Boric attempted to resolve the matter this Friday. “It’s absolutely overcome, corrected, and the disposition and work that Irina carries out is what was revealed in the campaign,” she assured. Karamanos’ office declined the newspaper’s request for an interview.

“I’m neither First nor Lady. In that sense, I think we need to get out of this conservative and neoclassical notion,” Karamanos said in an interview a few days after taking office, sparking greater interest in the turning point that would bring him. The amended resolution stated that it could, among other things, “identify, propose and coordinate strategic guidelines and programmatic definitions for public policies to be approached with an intersectional, human and gender perspective.

The government on Wednesday reported replacing the name of Irina Karamanos’ cabinet, which had registered an Internet domain, with the Presidency’s Socio-Cultural Coordination. The functions established for the position, which is not defined, regulated or paid – as in most democracies – have also been modified. For example, the coordination and programmatic definitions of public policy were eliminated, one of the points that drew the most criticism from the opposition, who believed it could influence the executive branch.

María de los Ángeles Fernández, political scientist with a doctorate and President of the Hay Mujeres Foundation, blames the “lack of experience” for the “big mistake”. “It’s not the only administrative error the government is making on its short journey. The risk is that if everything becomes an administrative error, you lose credibility.” He points out that the first ladies who preceded Karamanos made progress in public politics by action, not decree. For example, former First Lady Cecilia Morel, wife of Sebastián Piñera, promoted the Choose to Live Healthy program, which focuses on combating malnutrition. “But Irina explained it and cannot avoid the regular channels of the congress,” adds Fernández.

Before assuming leadership of the six foundations of the Presidency’s socio-cultural network corresponding to the role of First Lady, Karamanos was in charge of the feminist front of the Social Convergence party, of which Boric is a member, and worked at the Procultura Foundation, dedicated to the creation of development opportunities in remote areas. Fernández assures that he was positively impressed by the fact that Karamanos wanted to restate the position on the basis of gender equality. “I thought that I would continue to work at the Foundation, that I would accompany the President when he needed it on certain matters, but that he would retain his personal and professional sovereignty. But it wasn’t like that,” says the political scientist.

For Carolina Guerrero, a PhD in political science and author of research on first ladies, changing her name and graduating from college was a “mistake.” “The problem with suggesting the position would be reformed was that it created expectations that she would fill a completely different role and up to now they just see what’s in the office and then think about some changes “, he explains. The researcher at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies in Germany points out that the role of the first lady has been questioned by part of feminism from the start, saying it is a job of “being a wife”. shouldn’t exist.

“The second alternative,” says Guerrero, “is to transform it, to include the feminist perspective and interdepartmental coordination, without the work overlapping.” However, it is still too early to assess Karamanos’ work, adds the political scientist. “I can imagine that the program will be shown a little later,” he adds.

In the three-and-a-half months that the new government has been in office, Karamanos has focused his efforts on increasing transparency and decentralization in the presidential foundations he oversees, and has pushed a strong agenda on issues related to indigenous peoples. The anthropologist has set up working groups to promote language rights and the rights of LGTBI people. The latter in coordination with the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality.

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Source elpais.com

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