Venezuela president makes major cabinet reshuffle

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has announced a major cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to tackle the country’s economic woes.

Maduro on Wednesday named Luis Salas, a professor at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, as vice president for the economy. Salas was also named head of the newly-established Ministry for Productive Economy.

“We are facing a new economic emergency; and in the coming days, I will present a rescue plan,” Maduro said while announcing the changes in his cabinet in a speech on state television.

The Venezuelan leader, who had earlier split the former Economy, Finance and Bank Ministry into two separate ministries, appointed another academic, Rodolfo Medina, as the finance and banks minister.

Maduro also appointed Eulogio Del Pino as head of state oil company PDVSA and as oil minister.

He also appointed Delcy Rodriguez as foreign minister and Vladimir Padrino as defense minister.

In a separate development, Venezuela’s parliament – the National Assembly – sworn in three anti-government lawmakers in defiance of Maduro, who had won a Supreme Court injunction barring them from the parliament.

The move gave the opposition a super-majority in the legislative body, enabling it to restrict Maduro’s powers, remove Supreme Court judges, appoint key officials and even rewrite the constitution.

The opposition United Democratic Roundtable won a victory over Maduro’s United Socialist Party in a December 2015 vote, and took control of the National Assembly for the first time since 1999, when former President Hugo Chavez had risen to power.

Newly-elected National Assembly Speaker Henry Ramos Allup said he would find a way to have Maduro ousted within six months. Maduro’s presidential term will end in 2019.

The opposition accuses Maduro’s party of mismanaging the economy and leading the oil-rich country to poverty.

 

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