Caracas, August 3, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appointed on Tuesday new heads for the ministries of Interior, Justice, and Peace, Industry and Commerce, as well as Transport and Public Works.
In a surprise announcement made during his weekly television program “In Contact with Maduro”, the leftist leader tapped Carlos Faria as the new Commerce and Industry minister, replacing the pro-government businessman Miguel Perez Abad.
Brother of the current Foreign Commerce Minister Jesus Faria, Carlos Faria is a Soviet-trained engineer who previously served as vice-minister of intermediate and light industries under late president Hugo Chávez. Prior to assuming his current post, Faria also served as president of the state steel giant SIDOR in 2012 before going on to head up the High Level Russia-Venezuela Mixed Commission in 2015.
Perez Abad, who presided over the progressive liberalization of Venezuela’s labyrinthine currency controls during his 7-month tenure, will also be supplanted in his role as Vice-President for Economy.
Maduro has, however, yet to select a replacement for the country’s top economic post.
The Venezuelan head of state went on to name General Nestor Reverol as the new minister of the Interior, Justice, and Peace.
Maduro highlighted the general’s prior experience as director of Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office (ONA) as well as commander of the National Guard, which he said would “strengthen” his government’s controversial anti-crime campaign, the OLP.
The appointment comes a day after a US Federal District Court in Brooklyn issued an indictment against Reverol as well as the former sub-director of the ONA, Edylberto José Molina, over allegations that they allegedly took bribes from drug-traffickers between 2008 and 2010.
Maduro voiced his “solidarity” with Reverol and his family, who he said were being unjustly “attacked from the United States”.
“As interior minister, he broke the world record for capturing traffickers; this is why they want to make him pay– the DEA and all of the US drug mafias,” he stated, referring to the general’s previous tenure as interior minister under President Chávez.
Caracas has long been the target of repeated US accusations of abetting drug trafficking since the Chavez government’s 2005 decision to break ties with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) over espionage allegations. However, reports from Venezuela’s anti-drug agency show that drug seizures spiked following the DEA’s departure.
During his televised address, Maduro additionally designated Ricardo Molina as the new transport and public works minister.
Molina, who served as housing and habitat minister under Chavez and Maduro, will also take on the office of vice-president for territorial socialism.
Tuesday’s appointments mark the first major cabinet shakeup since President Maduro named a new vice-president as well as a handful of top ministers in January.