Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Maduro's disarray with the Musical Chairs

We got used to Chávez constantly changing ministers. That was how he infused fear and kept his followers tame. Some of the ministers he removed never came back. Some became opposition or simply outcasts. Some others went to embassies or national institutes. Some kept returning. There is the incredible case of one of his fellow coupsters, Jesse Chacón, who between 2003 and 2013 became, among other things, minister of the Presidency, minister of Telecommunications and Informatics, minister of Science and Technology, minister of Communication and Information (twice) and minister of Justice. Chacón did a couple of other things then as well. He didn't occupy more positions because he had to keep a low profile while his brother Arné Chacón was in jail for a while for becoming billionaire too fast and showing it off too bluntly. Arné is again a free  man and Jesse Chacón is minister of Electricity.

Maduro hasn't been president for one year and yet he has made a couple of rounds of musical chairs. Now we got what might be considered a record: on 15 January he appointed economist and former union leader José Salamat Khan Fernández as Minister of Commerce. Yesterday Maduro announced - using US Twitter- that he wished José well and that he was appointing as new minister Dante Rivas, a geographer who had been minister for the Environment for some months only. 

Call me a sentimental, but I had to capture the moment. Yesterday we had this:

and today we have this:

What do we see apart from the fact he got 20 new followers? Well...yesterday we had

"Minister of the Popular Power for Commerce"
and now:

"Today we have Fatherland. Make no mistake! Today we have Nation. Make no mistake! Chávez lives"

I leave it to psychologists and discourse analysts to ponder on those words. I think there might be something about the fact José realised national production had to increase...and that is not going to happen as long as Maduro is in power. Or am I reading too much into one of his past tweets, when he said he wanted national production to increase?

The way Maduro handled that ministry is just one example. Now, if you want to read more about the new minister that will promote trade (we have lots of other ministers for economic matters), you can read some rubbish in Spanish here or simply look at this picture: the geographer has a Chávez puppet in his (current) work desk and a painting of Che Guevara on top of his sound box.

As for Venezuela's trade and economy in general: I'll write about it on a later post.

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