LATIN AMERICA

Venezuelan ministers step down to give Maduro a free hand in reshuffle

Resignations of administration’s ministers suggest imminent cabinet change

Jorge Arreaza on Monday in Caracas. / FRANCISCO BATISTA (AFP)

Venezuela’s cabinet members have resigned so that President Nicolás Maduro “may have a free hand in making decisions concerning the reorganization of the administration,” Vice President Jorge Arreaza said in a televised speech on Monday night. At about the same time, Hugo Chávez’ successor was thanking his ministers on Twitter for the “gesture,” which he said would facilitate “necessary changes.”

The reshuffle will mark the Maduro government’s second restructuring in its 16-month existence amid a crushing economic crisis, rising crime rates and public disturbances. In January, the full cabinet resigned.

But this time the resignations fall within the framework of what Maduro called “a shake-up” aimed at creating “a revolution within the revolution” and battling inefficiencies and bureaucracy that burden his administration.

The reshuffle will mark the government’s second restructuring in 16 months

A report by Economy and Productivity Vice President Ricardo Menéndez and Orlando Borrego, a Cuban advisor who worked with Che Guevara, is to recommend what measures need to be taken. Officials had said they would reveal the results of the report on July 15 but Maduro decided to delay the announcement for a month. These resignations seem to anticipate an imminent reshuffle within the government.

Arreaza, Hugo Chávez’s son-in-law, said the ministers’ decision was made with “absolute generosity” after the group’s own collective “reflection.”

The vice president and Menéndez are two of the most visible faces of the “young Turks” who snuff out any pragmatic voices within the Maduro administration. “In these evaluations, we examined the processes, the bureaucratic problems...,” Arreaza said. “President Maduro already has a number of elements and we hope that he will make the announcements within the next few weeks.”

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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