Carolina Montserrat Tohá Morales (born 12 May 1965) is a Chilean political scientist, educator, and politician. Since September 6, 2022, she has served as the Minister of Interior and Public Security of Chile, under the presidency of Gabriel Boric. Previously, she served as the Minister Secretary General of Government – being the first woman to hold this position – during the first government of President Michelle Bachelet (between March and December 2009).

Carolina Tohá
Minister of the Interior and Public Security
Assumed office
6 September 2022
PresidentGabriel Boric
Preceded byIzkia Siches
Mayor of Santiago
In office
6 December 2012 – 6 December 2016
Preceded byPablo Zalaquett
Succeeded byFelipe Alessandri
President of the Party for Democracy
In office
15 May 2010 – 11 June 2012
Preceded byAdriana Muñoz D'Albora
Succeeded byJaime Quintana
Ministry Secretary General of Government
In office
12 March 2009 – 14 December 2009
PresidentMichelle Bachelet
Preceded byFrancisco Vidal Salinas
Succeeded byPilar Armanet
Personal details
Carolina Montserrat Tohá Morales

(1965-05-12) 12 May 1965 (age 58)
Santiago, Chile
Political partyParty for Democracy (PPD)
Spouse(s)Nolberto Salinas (divorced)
Fulvio Rossi (2005–2010)
Jaime Madariaga (2011–present)
Alma materUniversity of Chile
University of Milan

Tohá is a member of the Party for Democracy (PPD), being the first woman to serve as president of the party, from August 2010 to June 2012. She has served as a member of the Chamber of Deputies representing the 22nd district (for two consecutive periods, from 2002 to 2009) and as the mayor of the Santiago commune (from 2012 to 2016).[1]

Early life edit

Tohá was born in Santiago, Chile on May 12, 1965, the daughter of lawyer and socialist politician José Tohá González, who served as Minister of the Interior and National Defense during the government of President Salvador Allende. Her father was strangled to death in 1974, after being arrested and tortured six months after the coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.[2] Her mother is Victoria Morales Etchevers, also known as Moy de Tohá.[2][3]

Tohá began her primary studies at the Simón Bolívar School 120 in Santiago,[4] but after the overthrow of the Popular Unity government, she had to interrupt her routine and only took exams at the end of 1973. A few weeks after her father's death, she left with her family to Mexico, where they lived in self-exile for five years.[3] Back in her country in 1979, she was enrolled in the Francisco de Miranda School to continue her secondary studies,[2][4] where she met Jaime Gazmuri, who later became a senator, as her teacher, then in clandestinity.[3]

Tohá then continued her higher education in law at the University of Chile (1984-1989), where she early on developed her political career, which eventually identified her as one of the leaders of the University of Chile Student Federation (FECh) who opposed the Pinochet military dictatorship the most.[2][3] She held the position of vice president of FECh between 1986 and 1988. Together with Germán Quintana, who was president at the time, she led the university strike that resulted in the historic victory of the student movement: the resignation of the appointed rector José Luis Federici.[5]

In 1989, Tohá moved to Italy to study at the University of Milan, where she obtained a PhD in Political Science in 1994.[2][3] [6][7] She returned to Chile in 1995, working as an independent consultant on public management and social policies. She was also a teacher in various postgraduate programs at the School of Engineering of the University of Chile and at Alberto Hurtado University; advisor to the Ministry of Finance; executive secretary of the Social Interministerial Committee; consultant on public management issues; and also worked in the General Government Subsecretary's Office.[1]

Tohá has two children (Emilio and Matilde)[8] with lawyer and PPD activist Norberto Salinas,[2][9] before marrying physician and politician Fulvio Rossi in December 2005,[2] from whom she is now separated.[10] She later began a relationship with lawyer and specialist in Mapuche causes, Jaime Madariaga.[11]

Political career edit

Founder of the PPD and the Concertación governments (1987-2001) edit

In 1987, along with Ricardo Lagos and Jorge Schaulsohn, Tohá was part of the founding team of the PPD, as one of the young leaderships of the nascent party.[1]

After returning to Chile from her studies in Europe, Tohá served as executive secretary of the Social Ministers Committee of the Government of President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, a position she held between 1995 and 1997. That year, she chose to run for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies for the Santiago electoral district in the parliamentary elections, but was defeated by her party colleague Enrique Krauss and right-winger Alberto Cardemil.[7]

Tohá later became vice president of the PPD and, in 1999, actively participated in the presidential campaign of Lagos, who, after defeating Joaquín Lavín in January 2000, appointed her as Undersecretary General of Government, a position she assumed on March 11 of that year.[7] She resigned on May 23, 2001, to run for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in the parliamentary elections that year.[1]

Deputy for Santiago (2002-2009) edit

In the parliamentary elections of December 2001, Tohá was elected as a deputy for District No. 22, which was made up of the commune of Santiago, for the period 2002-2006. She assumed office on March 11, 2002. She was a member of the Standing Committee on Economics; Education, Culture, Sports and Recreation; and Interior Government. She was also a member of the Special Committee on Youth.[1]

In the parliamentary elections of December 2005, Tohá was re-elected as a deputy, this time with the highest number of votes (39.79%), for the same district No. 22. During the legislative period of 2006-2010, she was a member of the Standing Committee on Interior Government; and Education. She was a member of the Special Committee on Freedom of Expression and Media; and Special Committee on Inequality and Poverty. She also participated in the PPD parliamentary committee.[1]

Government spokeswoman and PPD president (2009-2012) edit

Tohá being presented as chief of Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle's presidential run-off campaign, 2009.

On March 12, 2009, Tohá was appointed Minister Secretary General of the Government by President Michelle Bachelet, becoming the first woman to hold that position in Chilean history. The appointment required her to resign from her seat in the Chamber of Deputies as both offices are incompatible in times of peace.[2] She was replaced by fellow party member Felipe Harboe.[12]

Later that same year, Tohá served as head of Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle's campaign, in his failed attempt to regain the presidency in the election won by businessman Sebastián Piñera, candidate of the center-right coalition, Alianza.[13]

On May 25, 2010, Tohá was elected president of the PPD, following an agreement with deputy Pepe Auth to launch a candidacy that had the approval of all factions within the party.[14][15] She held the position until June 2012.[16]

Mayor of Santiago (2012-2016) edit

Tohá holding a bullhorn while celebrating after being elected mayor of Santiago, 2012.

Tohá ran for the center-left Concertación's candidacy for mayor of Santiago in the municipal primaries held on 1 April 2012, where she won with over 67% of the preferences.[17] In the municipal elections held in October of that year, she obtained 50.60% of the preferences, regaining the Santiago municipality for her coalition after twelve years of Alliance hegemony.[11]

Tohá was sworn in as mayor of Santiago on December 6, 2012, becoming the first woman in that position elected by popular vote, as her three predecessors —Graciela Contreras (1939-1940), María Teresa del Canto (1953-1957) and María Eugenia Oyarzún (1975-1976)— were appointed by presidents of the Republic: Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Augusto Pinochet, respectively.[18]

In October 2014, Tohá promoted a citizen consultation that addressed several issues related to the safety and cleanliness of the Santiago municipality. She sought reelection in the 2016 municipal elections but was defeated by Felipe Alessandri, to whom she handed over the position on December 6, 2016.

Political hiatus (2016-2022) edit

Tohá took a break from politics after failing to get re-elected as mayor. In 2017, she established the City Institute, where she held the position of president.[19] She worked as a lecturer for the University of Chile's Master's program in Urbanism and provided consultancy services to the SUR Corporation between 2017 and 2018.[19] She also served as political analyst on Tele13 Radio.

Minister of Interior and Public Security (2022-present) edit

Carolina Tohá taking oath as Minister of the Interior and Public Security, alongside President Gabriel Boric on 6 September 2022.

On September 6, 2022, President Gabriel Boric made his first cabinet reshuffle, appointing Tohá as the Minister of Interior and Public Security,[20] replacing Izkia Siches.[21] She became the second woman to hold this position after Siches and the second woman to serve as Vice President of the Republic (also after Siches), a position she held between September 19 and 23, while President Boric attended the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.[22][23]

Controversies edit

Mayorship edit

Tohá standing between two municipal security patrol cars while mayor in 2014.

On May 27, 2014, a fire broke out in the warehouses of the National Institute municipal high school,[24][25] which was controlled by five fire companies. In her role as school administrator, Tohá received harsh criticism from parents and guardians, as the fire allegedly occurred following her decision to allow the students' occupations inside the establishment.[26] On July 31 of the same year, a group of parents and guardians filed a protection order against her to prevent the municipality from facilitating the occupations in the institute, arguing that her decision would violate the students' right to education.[27] The order was granted by the Santiago Court of Appeals on August 18.[28]

Later on, in September of that year, on the occasion of the celebration of the national holidays, the municipality decided to charge an entrance fee to the O'Higgins Park, where fairs are annually organized and the traditional military parade takes place. While the measure was unpopular among the fairground workers,[29] it was generally well-received by visitors, as security measures were increased.[30]

On November 16, Chilean police performed a controversial eviction of the merchants of the flea market that takes place in Parque Forestal.[31] The use of force was requested by Tohá, who stated that the measure was requested because the organizers had not respected an agreement that allowed them to operate only one weekend per month.[32]

SQM case edit

In May 2016, the Public Prosecutor's Office began investigating the irregular financing of the PPD party by the company Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) while Tohá was the president of the party,[33] through invoices issued by Chile Ambiente and the Innovation and Democracy Foundation.[34] She stated that she did not have a direct relationship with the payments, but that "politically, I have a responsibility".[35]

Media recognition edit

On November 30, 2022, in her role as Minister of Interior and Public Security, Tohá was recognized as one of the "100 Women Leaders" in the country, an award given by the organization Mujeres Empresarias and El Mercurio newspaper that seeks to highlight the work of women in different areas such as economy, education, and public service.[36]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Reseñas biografícas parlamentarias; Carolina Tohá Morales". Library of Congress of Chile. 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h La Segunda (Santiago), 30 de abril de 2009, p. 14.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Carolina Tohá, Subsecretaria General de Gobierno – Volvió a sonreír". El Mercurio. Santiago. 25 March 2000. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2023.
  4. ^ a b La Segunda (Santiago), 6 de febrero de 1998, p. 20.
  5. ^ "José Luis Federici, la primera gran derrota del régimen". El Mostrador. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  6. ^ La Nación (Santiago), 31 de enero de 2010, p. 8.
  7. ^ a b c La Segunda (Santiago), 3 de febrero de 2000, p. 13.
  8. ^ "Carolina Tohá Morales Reseñas biográficas parlamentarias". Library of Congress of Chile (in Spanish). National Congress of Chile. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  9. ^ La Segunda (Santiago), 24 de diciembre de 2009, p. 20.
  10. ^ López, María José; de la Fuente, Antonieta. "Sus años en México y el rol de Patricio Fernández en su llegada a La Moneda: los episodios menos conocidos de Carolina Tohá". Diario Financiero (in Spanish).
  11. ^ a b "El día en que Tohá dió vuelta el partido". Qué Pasa. 29 October 2012. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Carolina Tohá se transforma en la primera parlamentaria en saltar directo a La Moneda". El Mercurio. Santiago. 13 March 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  13. ^ La Tercera (Santiago), 16 de diciembre de 2009, p. 6.
  14. ^ ""Noticias"". Radio Universidad de Chile. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  15. ^ "Carolina Tohá asume presidencia del PPD en acto que contó con la presencia de Lago, Frei y Bachelet". La Tercera. 15 August 2010. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Jaime Quintana: "Queremos una izquierda las fuerte porque virar a la derecha no sirve"". El Mostrador. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Tohá se enfrentará a Zalaquett en las elecciones municipales". Emol. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  18. ^ "47 cosas de Santiago que hay que saber en su nuevo aniversario". El Mercurio. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  19. ^ a b Hopenhayn, Daniel (2021-03-28). "Carolina Tohá: "La conversación con el FA va a fluir cuando nosotros definamos quiénes somos"". La Tercera. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  20. ^ "¿Quién es Carolina Tohá, nueva ministra del Interior?". 6 September 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  21. ^ "Chile's Boric reshuffles cabinet after voters reject new constitution". Reuters. 6 September 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  22. ^ "Carolina Tohá lidera por primera vez el Comité Político de ministros en su rol de Vicepresidenta de la República". La Tercera. 20 September 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  23. ^ "Presidente de la República Gabriel Boric Font finaliza visita a Nueva York en el marco de la 77 sesión de la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas". Prensa Presidencia. 23 September 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  24. ^ "Amago de incendio se produjo esta madrugada en el Instituto Nacional". Emol. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  25. ^ "Tohá endurece postura y prohíbe tomas tras incendio en Instituto Nacional". La Tercera. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  26. ^ "Carolina Tohá asegura que no desalojará toma del Instituto Nacional". La Segunda. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  27. ^ "Apoderados presentan recurso para "impedir que alcaldesa Tohá facilite tomas en I. Nacional"". Emol. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  28. ^ "Santiago presenta recurso de apelación por prohibición de tomas en el Instituto Nacional". Ahora Noticias - Mega. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Municipalidad de Santiago hace positivo balance de Fiestas Patrias en el Parque O'Higgins". La Segunda. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Autoridad realiza un positivo balance de las fondas en Parque O'Higgins". Publimetro. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  31. ^ "Feria de las pulgas: con video denuncian violento desalojo del Parque Forestal". Publimetro. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  32. ^ "Municipio de Santiago: Feria de las pulgas del Parque Forestal no da garantías". La Nación. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  33. ^ "Historias que unen al PPD con SQM (Parte I)". La Tercera. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  34. ^ "Tohá y pagos de SQM al PPD: "No solicité a Patricio Rodrigo, ni directa ni indirectamente, ningún asunto relacionado con el financiamiento del partido"". El Mostrador. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  35. ^ "Carolina Tohá y aportes de SQM al PPD: "En lo político tengo una responsabilidad"". La Tercera. 23 October 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-10-23. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  36. ^ "Premian a las 100 mujeres líderes que se destacaron en 2022". Emol. 30 November 2022. Retrieved 19 February 2023.

Preceded by Minister of the Interior and Public Security
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister Secretary General of Government
Succeeded by