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Maduro asks Cabinet to Resign, Plans Restructuring in Face of Electoral Defeat

Caracas, December 9th, 2015. ( Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced today several steps to “protect the achievements of the revolution” in light of the 2/3 majority secured yesterday by the Venezuelan opposition, including a full cabinet shakeup.

During his weekly broadcast In Contact with Maduro, the head of state questioned the impact the defeat might have on the far-reaching social missions promoted by the social government for over 15 years.

He also called for a “deep process of revision and self-criticism” upon which he asked his ministers and cabinet to “make their post available to initiate a process of restructuring, renovation and relaunch of the entire national government.”

The new powers granted by a 2/3 majority will permit the opposition to remove ministers and the Vice-President from power.

The head of state also emphasized the need of a new communication model to attract youth and to fight against what he called the “every man for himself”-attitude permeating public institutions.

“Sometimes one is rowing and rowing so strong that you hardly realize that there are people in the same boat rowing in the other direction.” Maduro said.
Expressing concern for the massive Housing Mission, which has provided nearly one million homes for low-income Venezuelans since 2011, and the public Transport Mission, he asked the whole country’s support in defending the revolution’s efforts.

Recalling the 2002 coup that briefly removed former president Hugo Chavez from power, Maduro said “we need that spirit of April 13th.”

On April 13th, 2002, nearly two million people took to the streets to demand the return of their elected leader, defying the media-supported coup and the suspension of their constitutional right to protest.

Referencing announcements recently made by opposition leaders to give amnesty to those they deem “political prisoners,” Maduro declared, “I won't accept…because they violated human rights […] the murderers of the people have to be judged and have to pay for what they have done!”

At the center of the conflict lies hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was arrested in February of 2014 for inciting violence by calling upon supporters to take the streets and force Maduro to resign. 43 people were killed in the protests that followed.

The constitution permits the president to twice repeal any bid introduced by the National Assembly, if he considers the request unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the third bid will go to the Supreme Court and be beyond Maduro’s power to veto.

Analysts consider it likely that after taking office in January, the new Assembly will make it one of their first priorities to secure Lopez’s release.

The president also countered threats made by opposition leader Henry Ramos Allup, who is poised to be elected president of the National Assembly. Allup has sworn to replace the workers of ANTV, the state channel which covers Assembly meetings, on the grounds that the channel is run “like a gutter.”

Maduro promised to dictate a special law to protect those workers in their posts for the next three years, although he did not provide further details.

The Venezuelan leader also responded to threats made by Jesus Torrealba, leader of the opposition coalition MUD, of closing the mausoleum where the remains of Chavez are held.

On air, the president announced that the 4F Cuartel de la Montaña, the former military fort turned mausoleum, would be passed into the ownership of the Hugo Chavez Foundation for protection.

National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello joined Maduro on the program to announce that new Supreme Court judges would be appointed before the end of the year.

Cabello also shed light on how the government planned to protect the “freedom of speech” of the ANTV workers and their counterparts at ANRadio.

“We have evaluated the situation and came to the conclusion that we will hand over ANTV and ANRadio to the workers. You will be your own bosses!” Cabello said, to the applause of workers present.

With both channels being collectively run by the workers, the National Assembly will lose the authority it currently has over them.

Maduro also outlined a schedule for the “renovation for the revolution,” starting with a meeting this Thursday with the 980 delegates of the socialist party, who together will “evaluate the errors made in the past and seek solutions.”

He will also meet with social movements on Saturday.

The last half of the program resembled a press conference, as the head of state responded questions posed by international journalists invited on the show for nearly an hour and a half.

Published on Dec 9th 2015 at 7.25pm