Sebastián Piñera resisted carrying out a cabinet shuffle for as long as he could. But in recent weeks a protest against the easing of gas subsidies in the southern region of Magallanes has turned into a cuasi-revolt, making the position of the energy minister unsustainable. The transport minister, and the defense minister were also booted; the former for not doing enough to improve Transantiago (how many ministers has Transantiago claimed?), and the latter for continually shooting off his mouth in most inappropriate ways.
So over the weekend, the president replaced all three, asking current media darling Laurence Golborne to take on an additional ministry (energy), and inviting two long-time collaborators and rivals to leave the Senate and enter cabinet. In my view, the cabinet shuffle was insufficient (there are a few more who should have been shown the door, meaning that another change will have to ocurr over the course of 2011). But it also accomplishes several other things, which I summarise here.