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Why Did Nicolás Maduro Change Seven of His Ministers in the Last Week?

The reason that led the President of Venezuela to make such a radical change in his ministerial cabinet is still unknown, especially with the departure of Jorge Arreaza as foreign minister.

Nicolas Maduro

Nicolás Maduro announced seven new changes in his ministerial cabinet, due to what he himself called a commitment to his country in the face of the regional elections. Photo: TW-NicolasMaduro

LatiAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Por qué Nicolás Maduro cambió siete de sus ministros en la última semana?

On August 19 and 20, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, announced seven new changes in his ministerial cabinet, due to what he himself called a commitment to his country in the face of the regional elections that will take place next November 21 in Venezuela, in which the new governors and mayors of the Caribbean country will be elected.

It should be remembered that on August 8, the so-called primary elections of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV; government party) were held, in which at least 3.5 million Chavista supporters chose the candidates who will represent them in the November “mega-elections”.

The figure was revealed by the first vice president of the PSUV, Diosdado Cabello, who did not hesitate to classify the day as "extraordinary." "It is the result of an overwhelming presence of the people that overflowed and no one can deny it," said Cabello.

Thus, after the primaries were held, Maduro explained that "the people elected several of the members of the cabinet as their candidates for the megalections of November 21," so it became necessary to hire new personnel, or to redistribute those who already had, to be able to cover the gaps left by three of the seven new ministers. Many analysts believe that this is also a strategy to heal wounds after the fractures suffered by the PSUV in primary elections that in many municipalities ended with blows and with allegations of fraud.

The ministers who will leave their positions, the executive position for which they will fight and their respective replacements are:

  • Admiral in Chief Carmen Mélendez, who stood out as Minister for Internal Relations, Justice and Peace. She will act as a candidate for the PSUV for the Mayor's Office of the Libertador de Caracas municipality. She will be replaced by the also Admiral in Chief, Remigio Ceballos Ichaso.
  • Eduardo Piñate, former Minister of Education, will opt for the most important position in the Apure State Government and will be replaced by Yelitze Santaella.
  • Yamilet Mirabal, former Minister of the Popular Power for Indigenous Peoples, will seek to stay with the Mayor's Office of Atures, a municipality in the state of Amazonas. Mirabal will be replaced by the indigenous leader, Roside Virginia González.

Generally speaking, these three new appointments are simply, as it is known in chess, one move from tile to tile. There are no major changes of form or order in the way of working of the new ministers since they handle a profile very similar to the outgoing ones. On this occasion, Nicolás Maduro decided to maintain the strategy that he has maintained for months for these portfolios in his country.

You can also read: How are the dialogues between Chavismo and the Venezuelan opposition going?

Renewal in Venezuelan politics

Now, these are only three of the seven Ministries in which Maduro decided to put the lens, still without knowing the true reasons for the change of the other four. Taking advantage of the fact that a trio of his ministers will initiate a fight for the electorate in their respective municipalities or states, the Chief Executive made a renewal also in the Ministries of Ecological Mining Development; Women and Gender Equality; of Industries and National Production; and Foreign Relations (Foreign Ministry), designating William Serantes, Margaud Godoy, Jorge Arreaza and Félix Plasencia, respectively, in each of these portfolios of the Venezuelan Government.

However, although the changes of ministers in the offices of Ecological Mining Development, and of Women and Gender Equality have caused doubts in the nation, it is no secret that the real surprise was taken by the Venezuelans when they learned that Jorge Arreaza, one of the most loyal to Maduro in recent years, would be relieved of his position as Chancellor to now face the Ministry of Industries and National Production.

Arreaza, who had held the position since August 2, 2017, was one of Nicolás Maduro's staunch followers and allies abroad, being praised by the latter. In the words of the President, Arreaza gave the new Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia "the undefeated banner of resistance and victory of Venezuela's international politics," represented especially in the handling of the enmity with the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, and the economic blockades imposed by that country on Venezuela.

So, if Jorge Arreaza was such a good foreign minister, why did Nicolás Maduro decide to relieve him of his position to return him to a national portfolio?

Negotiations with the opposition in Mexico

Although the real reason why Maduro ceded the power of Foreign Relations to the former Venezuelan ambassador in China is still unknown, the most accepted theory in the midst of public opinion is that the Executive wants to achieve a political renewal in the international framework, focused on the negotiations currently being held with the opposition in Mexico; and it seems that Plasencia would be the right man.

With several studies focused on the diplomatic management of Foreign Relations and a vast trajectory in this political item, especially in European or Eurasian missions, Plasencia could be the key piece that Maduro will use to strengthen his power in the midst of dialogues with the opposition leaders in Aztec territory.

However, unlike Arreaza's aggressive defensive attitude, Plasencia has several tools that convey calm and friendship, which will surely play in favor of the Government and its negotiation with the opposition, the image that the regime gives to the international community, and its success in making it act in favor of Venezuela and its need for the United States to be a little laxer with its blockades. Will this strategy work?

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