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Chavez Reshuffles Cabinet, Criticises Media Coverage of Venezuela

Mérida, 15th October 2012 ( – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reshuffled his cabinet ahead of important regional elections in December, swearing in a new vice president and six new ministers on Saturday.

Chavez’s new vice president is Nicolas Maduro, who has been the country’s foreign minister since 2006. A former union leader of the Caracas metro workers union, Maduro was also a founding member of the Fifth Republic Movement, which propelled Chavez to his first presidential election victory in 1998.

Maduro replaces Elias Jaua, who has been freed up to contest the state governor election for Miranda against former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who is standing for re-election in the populous state. Several other outgoing government ministers are likewise set to compete in the upcoming regional elections.

New ministers were announced for interior affairs, agriculture, communication, indigenous affairs, environment, and office of the presidency (chief of staff). While announcing the new cabinet members via his twitter account, Chavez emphasized the importance of efficiency in ministerial management, declaring “efficiency or nothing!”

Meanwhile, during the swearing in ceremony, the new ministers vowed to comply with the national constitution, to “struggle for the transformation and construction of socialism of the 21st century” and to “transform the old bourgeoisie and capitalist state”.

General Nestor Reverol Torres replaces Tareck El Aissami as interior affairs and justice minister, the latter to now contest the governorship of Aragua state for Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Chavez reminded Reverol that tackling insecurity is one of the government’s “great battles” of the coming period.

Chavez also swore-in the journalist Ernesto Villegas as the new minster of communication and information, replacing Andres Izarra. Villegas hosts the program “All Venezuela” on state channel VTV, and directs pro-government newspaper Ciudad CCS.

The Venezuelan president took the opportunity during the ceremony to criticise private domestic and international media coverage of Venezuela, which in his opinion refuses to recognize “all of the government’s work, covering it up, distorting it, [and] denying it[s existence]”. “We’re at the centre of an international battle, and there’s an alliance operating against Venezuela, the government and our revolution,” he added.

He went on to argue the need for Venezuelan public and community media to do more to counter this negative coverage and report more effectively on what the government does, stating, “We’re not at the same level of strategic intensity [as private media], producing the counter effect”.

Other new ministers include Juan Carlos Loyo, of agriculture and land, who returns to the post after recovering from illness; Carmen Melendez, of the office of the presidency and monitoring; and Cristobal Francisco, of environment.

Finally, the new minister of indigenous peoples is Aloha Nuñez, who was until now the vice-minister in the same ministry. Outgoing minister Nicia Maldonado will run for governor of Amazonas state.

Saturday’s announcements were the first cabinet reshuffle since Hugo Chavez was re-elected as Venezuelan president with over 55% of the vote last Sunday 7 October.

Published on Oct 15th 2012 at 4.02pm