Caracas, January 26, 2010 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the appointment of a new Vice-President, Defence Minister, and Environment Minister shortly after three ministers resigned on Monday.
In a statement broadcast on state-television Monday, Communications Minister Blanca Eeckhout said that President Chavez had accepted the resignations of the Vice-President Ramón Carrizalez, who is also Defence Minister, and his wife, Environment Minister Yubirí Ortega.
“We would like to take the opportunity to thank and recognize the effort and commitment that he maintained throughout his term,” the minister said in reference to the outgoing Carrizalez.
In a press release Carrizalez said he had resigned for “strictly personal” reasons.
There has been widespread media speculation that the resignation was the result of political differences with the government over its decision to temporarily suspend cable television channel RCTV for multiple violations of media regulations.
However, Carrizalez denied this saying “My resignation is not the result of any discrepancy with government decisions, and any other version about my reasons for resigning is false and malicious.”
Other reports have suggested that the resignations have more to do with factional struggles within the government and dissatisfaction over upcoming cabinet changes.
Shortly after Carrizales’ resignation, the Minister for Public Banking and president of the Bank of Venezuela, Eugenio Vásquez Orellana, a former advisor and close friend of Carrizalez also announced his resignation citing “health problems.”
Late Tuesday night Chavez announced that he is appointing Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua as Vice-President, a post that he will hold in addition to his ministerial position. Jaua already was fourth Vice-President, in charge of productive economy.
Jaua has been a long-time member in Chavez’s many cabinets, where he has also held the posts of Minister of the Office of the Presidency and Minister of Popular Economy.
Chavez also named General Mata Figueroa as new Defense Minister and Alejandro Hitcher, the president of the country’s water company Hydroven, as Minister of the Environment.
Reports indicate that José Rojas, currently Venezuela’s representative to the World Bank, will replace Vásquez Orellana as president of the Bank of Venezuela.
Recent cabinet changes in the Chavez government include the removal of Electricity Minister Ángel Rodríguez on January 14 after his proposed electricity rationing plan in Caracas to combat shortages in the energy sector produced widespread criticism. Rodríguez was replaced by Finance Minister Alí Rodríguez Araque.
As a result the finance ministry was merged with the ministry of planning under the jurisdiction of Jorge Giordani, who is now Minister of Finance and Planning.
Also in November last year the Minister for Science, Technology and Medium Industry, Jesse Chacón, resigned after his brother was arrested and charged over a bank fraud scandal. Chacón was replaced by Ricardo Menéndez.