Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A new round in Venezuela's ministerial chairs: the Monk is gone (updated!)

Maduro does just as his "intellectual father" did: change ministers with incredible frequency. As Rory Carroll wrote in his book on Chávez, "the comandante went over 180 ministers in over a decade". 

Below you have an overview of the ministries as of  yesterday evening, 17 June 2014. Those with a diamond sign have military honchos as ministers. Other ministers might be like the minister of Tourism, Izarra, who is the son of a military and former coup monger, friend of Chávez, or former guerrillas who fought against democratic governments or related to a guerrilla aristocracy, like the minister of Energy, Boligarch Rafael Rodríguez.

Maduro has changed ministers once for those ministries in yellow. He has changed ministers twice for those ministries in blue. This is all since he produced his first cabinet in April 2013. That means those ministries in blue have seen three different ministers in fourteen months.

A very important event: Maduro demoted Jorge Giordani, aka The Monk, no apparent position as an ambassador or at some institute so far. He also transformed the ministry of Planning into a vice-presidency. He appointed Menéndez for that position. The military Herbert Plaza, who was minister of Water and Air Transportation, became minister of Food. Things are not looking very bright on the food sector and Maduro thinks he can fix that without doing something about the economy. Menéndez was minister of University Education, so Maduro has to look for a replacement for him there and he found a guy called Jason Guzmán. Little is known about him.

Maduro took over many ministers from Chávez and some others he changed.

In the case of the Ministry for University Education we have this order since 2013:

Yadira Córdoba was the minister until Chávez died and Maduro replaced her as soon as he officially took office by Pedro Calzadilla, then Ricardo Menéndez and now Jason Guzmán.

In the case of Trade we have the following order since 2013:

Edmée Betanourt was the minister of Trade until Chávez died, then the job went to Alejandro Fleming, then to José Salamat Kahn and now it's in the hands of Dante Rivas.

Notice this: most key ministries but the one of oil are in the hands of military. That is the case for the ministry of Economy, the one of Interior, the ministry of Air & water transportation (control of airports and harbors), the ministry of Electricity (yes, that's key in Venezuela) and last but not least, the ministry of Food. The change we saw yesterday was from one military to another one there.

Wao: and Giordani writes a very long letter in Aporrea talking about his work. He breaks with Maduro and tries to justify what he did. There will be turmoil among the apparatchiks.

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