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Venezuelan President Designates New Caracas Head and Communications Minister

Merida, April 16th 2009 (Venezuelanlaysis.com) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has named Jacqueline Faría as the head of state of the newly created Capital District, and Blanca Eckhout as the new minister for communications and information.

On Tuesday, a week after the National Assembly passed the Law of the Administration of the Capital, creating a new administrative region and position, Faría assumed that position.

The law changed administrative responsibility and budgeting for Caracas, and legislators promoted it on the basis that the capital city needed its own special law.

The law also reassigned the building that had belonged to the Metropolitan Mayoralty, as the new Capital District headquarters.

Antonio Ledezma of the opposition will continue as mayor of Metropolitan Caracas. Jorge Rodríguez of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will continue as mayor of the highly populated Libertador Municipality, which used to be part of Metropolitan Caracas but is now the area covered by the Capital District.

Faría is currently president of Movilnet, the cell phone division of the national telephone and communications company CANTV, and is also vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) for the western region. In the past, she served as environment minister and president of Hidrocapital, the state-owned Caracas water company, and is a hydraulic civil engineer by profession.

In a short speech Wednesday, Faría said her team would work with the mayor of Libertador to construct a "truly socialist" Caracas and argued that the Capital District law was an overdue necessity to allow resources to be allocated to that area specifically as the capital, rather than just as a municipality.

However, Ledezma told the press on Wednesday that he would continue functioning as the main civil, political, and administrative authority of Caracas and rejected the creation of an authority for the Capital District. He referred to the new law as a "liquidation of democracy" and complained about an "inequality" of financial resources.

"This is a government that invests money outside the country. Now let's reverse the situation, lets see a metropolitan mayor looking for money from outside to invest in the city, lets knock on the doors of all the citizens, lets start a campaign over the next few days to motivate the citizens to participate in volunteering for the city, so that our big plans aren't paralysed," said Ledezma.

According to the Venezuelan daily newspaper El Universal, workers for the Metropolitan Mayoralty protested on Wednesday, blocking one of the main roads, Urdaneta Avenue, to protest the appointment of Faría and to support Ledezma.

Faría responded to opposition complaints saying it was necessary for her position to be appointed by the national government because the Capital District "is an at-risk area because it is the seat of public power and it is closer to the central government."

New Communications Minister

On Wednesday, President Chávez appointed Blanca Eckhout as the new minister for communication and information. Jesse Chacon, who had served as minister of that portfolio since last December, will now direct the Ministry for Science, Technology and Light Industries.

In March, Chávez shuffled his ministers and consolidated several ministries, with the aim of making them more efficient. Part of the re-organization included transferring industrial development work that was previously part of the Ministry of Light Industries and Commerce over to the Science and Technology Ministry.

Eckhout was one of the founders of Catia TVe (a community television station based in a large western barrio of Caracas) and has been president of Vive TV, a national public station, since January 2005. She is also a member of the PSUV publicity commission.

Published on Apr 17th 2009 at 7.54am