UPDATED: Venezuelan Businessman Replaces Leftist Sociologist as Economy Czar

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced yesterday his decision to appoint the former businessman and sitting commerce minister, Miguel Pérez Abad, as Vice-President for Productive Economy, replacing left-wing political economist Luis Salas after just six weeks in the position.

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New Vice-President for Productive Economy Miguel Pérez Abad. (VTV)
New Vice-President for Productive Economy Miguel Pérez Abad. (VTV)
By Lucas Koerner
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Caracas, February 16, 2016. (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced yesterday his decision to appoint the former businessman and sitting Industry and Commerce Minister, Miguel Pérez Abad, as Vice-President for Productive Economy, replacing left-wing political economist Luis Salas after just six weeks in the position.

Citing “family reasons”, Maduro stated that the sociologist and economics professor would be “taking on other activities on the economic team”, though offered no further details.

Taking to Twitter on Monday night, Salas confirmed his resignation due to "family circumstances" and endorsed the choice of Abad as his successor. 

"The Economic Vice-Presidency is a strategic space that requires 24 hour presence. Personal reasons prevent me from dedicating [this time]," he explained.

"Comrade Miguel Pérez Abad has all of the spirit and capability for this task. All of my support for him."

An advocate for tougher measures against the large private firms accused of waging an “economic war” against the Bolivarian government, Salas was appointed to the top economic post in a cabinet shake-up early last month. His nomination followed the ruling United Socialist Party’s (PSUV) crushing defeat in the December 6th parliamentary elections.

His replacement, Abad, is the ex-president of FEDEINDUSTRIAS, a national business lobby representing small and medium sized firms.

It is widely believed that the former businessman will continue his predecessor’s policy of promoting dialogue with the private sector via the newly created National Economic Council in order to jumpstart the country’s ailing economy, which recorded 140% inflation last year.

On his Twitter account, Abad describes himself as committed to building a "powerful and socially just homeland" as well as a "believer in productive socialism". 

Both Abad and Salas were involved in drafting an emergency economic decree unveiled last month which grants the executive sweeping powers to address the economic crisis.

Despite a veto by the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the decree was upheld by a recent Supreme Court ruling, which found that the top legislative body postponed discussion of the measure in violation of the constitution.

The Venezuelan head of state is set to announce a package of new economic measures this Tuesday.

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