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Ministry of Agriculture
Esteban Valenzuela Van Treek
Considered a “regionalist at heart” by President Gabriel Boric himself, Agriculture Minister Esteban Valenzuela Van Treek (57) was born in Rancagua. He spent his childhood and youth in a sprawling family home just a few blocks from the bohemian Barrio Estación district frequented by poet Oscar Castro of “Vida Simplemente” fame, and the folk singing brothers Luis and Arturo Gatica.
A son and grandson of laborers at the El Teniente mine, he is married to psychologist Alejandra Pallamar Azúa, with whom he has three children, Amanda, Gregorio, and Joaquín, as well as a granddaughter, Eloísa. He attended Escuela N° 1 and Instituto O’Higgins in Rancagua, before leaving to study journalism at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago. During his time as a student he served as vice president of the FEUC student union and as founder and director of the Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH), established in Valparaíso in 1984.
Minister Valenzuela has a master’s in political science from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC); a master’s in development from the University of Wisconsin (USA), and a doctorate in Contemporary History from the Universitat de Valencia (Spain). He served as mayor of Rancagua, vice president of the Asociación Chilena de Municipalidades, and spent two terms as a congressional deputy, sitting on the Mining and Energy Committee and the Interior and Regional Development Committee.
He is an expert in governance, development and decentralization, and was chair of the Decentralization Committee created by then-President Bachelet in 2014. That committee gave rise to a series of measures to delegate more autonomy and authority to Chile’s regions, in an effort to promote equity and socially- and environmentally-conscious development in all of Chile’s territories.
A scholar, researcher, activist, regionalist, and environmentalist, he is also a writer who has published a teen novel, Pichilemu Blues, as well as analytical books on politics and development. He has worked as a consultant on local and rural development matters for GIZ, the German cooperation agency, in Guatemala, Colombia, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic. He is founder and vice president of the political party Frente Regionalista Verde Social (FRVS).
Ignacia Fernández Gatica
Ignacia Fernández Gatica holds a Degree in Sociology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, a Master’s in Political Science from the Universidad de Chile and a PhD in Sociology from the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.
She has served as executive director of the Latin American Center for Rural Development (RIMISP), advisor to the Treasury Ministry’s Budget Directorate, and head of the Regional and Administrative Development Undersecretary’s Office Policies and Studies Division.
Her specialist areas are public policy, territorial development, decentralization and social protection.