Venezuela: Former Guerrilla and Bolivarian Leader Ali Rodriguez Dies at 81

A key figure on the Venezuelan left for decades, longtime revolutionary Ali Rodriguez passed away this week.


Pays de Gex, France, November 22, 2018 ( – A former guerrilla commander who held a number of posts in the Bolivarian Revolution, Ali Rodriguez Araque passed away in Havana on Monday, November 19.

Rodriguez was born on September 9, 1937, in Ejido, Merida State. He graduated from the Central University of Venezuela in 1961 with a law degree, going on to focus his studies on the oil sector.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he took part in the guerrilla movements that fought against the alternating US-backed governments of social democratic Accion Democratica and social Christian COPEI. Nicknamed “Commander Fausto,” Rodriguez became a member of the Party of the Venezuelan Revolution (PRV), an armed splinter from Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) that included a number of historic revolutionary figures, including Fabricio Ojeda and Douglas Bravo .

Rodriguez broke from the PRV in the late ‘70s and in 1983 joined La Causa R, another party formed out of a split in the PCV. Having supported the failed uprising led by Chavez on February 4, 1992, Rodriguez would later break from La Causa R to found a new party, Homeland for All (Patria para Todos, PPT) in 1997.

The ex-guerrilla held a number of key government posts under President Hugo Chavez, starting as Energy Minister in 1999. From 2000 to 2002 he held the post of OPEC secretary general, before being appointed president of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. Rodriguez held this post during the 2002-03 oil lockout and sabotage, which brought production to a virtual standstill in an attempt to overthrow Chavez. But the efforts were defeated, largely thanks to the mobilization of the company rank-and-file against the management, and oil production picked up again very quickly.

In 2004 he was appointed foreign minister, a post he held until a health problem led to his replacement by Nicolas Maduro in 2006. Rodriguez briefly held the post of ambassador to Cuba, and in 2007 left the PPT to join the newly formed United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

Rodriguez later served as finance minister from 2008-2010, electricity minister in 2010-2011, and held the post of UNASUR secretary general from 2012-2014. In 2014, he was appointed again as ambassador to Cuba, a post he held until passing away this week after a protracted illness.

The funeral service was held on Wednesday, with leading figures from the Venezuelan government and allies paying tribute to “Commander Fausto.”

“Ali Rodriguez was a tireless fighter, one of those who are indispensable for a revolution. His experience and honesty were a school for all of us,” President Maduro wrote on Twitter, while extending his condolences to the family.

Adan Chavez, a fellow veteran of the PRV, wrote that Rodriguez’s “loyalty, unbreakable commitment, wise humility and infinite confidence in victory” would remain with the Venezuelan people.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel sent his heartfelt wishes to the Bolivarian family, adding that the “guerrilla, politician, intellectual and Latin Americanist” was now inseparable from Cuba.

Edited by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.