Shock in Defense: the landing of a historic PS and a communist undersecretary in question

It was an open secret within the different Armed Forces (FFAA): both the Minister of Defense, Maya Fernández, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Javier Iturriaga, they had not been very happy once the ceremony for the restitution of the plaque of Generals René Schneider and Carlos Prats, on July 21, was over. The discomfort had nothing to do with the substance of the act, but with how the ceremony was conceived and who had even been behind the idea of ​​inviting President Gabriel Boric himself.

The intellectual organizer of the ceremony had been the Undersecretary of Defense, Fernando Ayala (PPD), and who had disposed of the activity long before notifying the minister. This bothered the PS militant -who is very close to President Boric-, but also General Iturriaga, according to some witnesses to the event, who was invited to the act, but was not allowed to speak at the ceremony.

This was not the first disagreement between Ayala, the Armed Forces. and his boss. The other incident had been when, in April, Ayala led a harsh argument with General (R) Jorge Robles, director of the National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies (Anepe)for the attempt to intervene in the appointment of the new deputy director of the institution.

Robles ended up resigning from his position, since it bothered him greatly that they asked him for the position of Luis Farías Gallardo, former academic deputy director, who had obtained the position through a process of Senior Public Management. To this day, the general (R) does not want to refer to his departure and even less to Ayala.

These two incidents, plus other considerations of treatment and relationship with the branches of the Armed Forces, were undermining the confidence within the Defense with Undersecretary Ayala, which led to the fact that when considering a change of cabinet his name was proposed to leave. However, the frustrated appointment of Nicolás Catalado (PC) in the Undersecretary of the Interior put the officialization of the appointments of the undersecretaries on hold.

Even so, Ayala’s departure should take place in the next few days. “She is out”, indicate different sources consulted, they even warn that the minister herself Fernández already communicated it to his team and also who has become part of the generals who have placed the most trust: General Javier Iturriaga. In these conversations, in addition, the head of Defense informed that it will be Gabriel Gaspar (PS) your new “second on board”.

gabriel gaspar

Gabriel Gaspar Tapia (73) He is a recognized militant of the PS, historical and designated as one of the “hawks” of the collectivity of Paris No. 873. He has a long career in the military sphere: between 2000 and 2006 he was appointed as Undersecretary of War by President Ricardo Lagos to later be ambassador to Colombia and Cuba.

Eight years later he would return to Defense, but this time as Undersecretary. Between 20014 and 2015 he fell as deputy secretary of the portfolio, where he strengthened ties with the military world, but also left some wounds among his peers. “He tends to wear the military uniform too much, rather than assuming that his task is administrative,” says one of the people who worked with him.

Those who know him describe him as highly prepared for the position, since he has studies in military strategy and international politics. “He has a very good preparation for the position”, says a general (R) who worked with him. His profile can be summed up in an anecdote, says one of his colleagues in Defense during those years: in 2014 he traveled to the north of the country to supervise an Army field work and asked to be photographed with viewers and on the ground in the purest style of a military in war functions.

In Defense and the Armed Forces. They recognize another virtue: his militancy as a socialist and attachment to Fernández. Both have known each other for years, which, they say, could be very favorable for the performance of the Defense Minister, where she has gradually understood the operation of the Army, Navy and Fach. “He has to be careful, yes, that he doesn’t get so involved in his decisions,” says a source.

The arrival of Gaspar will also serve to deactivate another incipient problem that arises in Defense: the role of Galo Eidelstein (PC), Undersecretary for the Armed Forces. The communist militant does not have all the confidence in the Armed Forces, nor in the Ministry, pointed out various sources consulted, given that among his measures, they are hiring a battery of PC militants in the undersecretary’s office.

Eidelstein’s departure was another of the changes expected for Defense, but since Nicolás Cataldo did not reach the Interior, the PC blocked the possibility of one more of its strong men leaving an important ministry. His permanence in office, however, is not assured, and everything will depend on how the true internal earthquake that left the last cabinet change continues to move.

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