Monday, November 5, 2012

Defense Ministry Gets a New Leader

Hinzpeter
Andres Allemand has stepped down as Defense Minister, one of two cabinet members leaving their posts to pursue Chile's presidency. The new minister is Rodrigo Hinzpeter, the current Interior Minister. In that capacity, Hinzpeter has been responsible for domestic security, anti-terrorism efforts and other key mandates. That has given him ample experience in border security, student protests and the Mapuche conflict. He's pushed for a new law to control violence at demonstrations. That has made him a top enemy of student and Mapuche protesters. The Ministry of Defense has been largely bypassed in internal security, so Hinzpeter heads for a less-volatile job. Should changes be expected in Chile's defense policies? Not really. Hinzpeter and Allemand served in the same administration, and the new appointment is just a stop-gap measure until a new president comes to power in about a year from now. A lawyer by training, Hinzpeter spent some time working at a New York law firm. Allemand can look back at his tenure in Defense with some significant milestones. He was instrumental in developing a new budget mechanism for the armed forces (one that backs away from using copper revenues) and for a proposal that could increase the military's role in anti-terror, immigration and other internal issues. Peacekeeping and social welfare programs advanced under his leadership.

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