Maduro made several changes to his cabinet today, choosing to announce the switches through his official Twitter account.
The most important changes came at the Vice Presidency, which is now held by Delcy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is also the President of the Constituent Assembly, Maduro’s tailor-made legislative branch, and the sister of Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez.
Maduro made the announcement by saying:
I assigned to [the office of] Executive Vice President a young woman, brave, battle-hardened, daughter of a martyr, revolutionary and tested in a thousand battles; our sister Delcy Eloina Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is the daughter of Jorge Antonio Rodriguez, a left-wing guerrilla leader who rose to prominence after kidnapping a U.S. citizen in 1976. Rodriguez was arrested by Venezuelan authorities that same year and tortured to death.
As the president of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, Rodriguez is one of the most powerful people in Venezuela. The Maduro regime is using a loophole in the Venezuelan Constitution that allows the Constituent Assembly to legislative unchallenged while it drafts a new constitution to rule by decree. Despite being elected last July, the Constituent Assembly has not made any effort to draft a new constitution.
Rodriguez replaces Tareck El Aissami as vice president. Maduro announced that El Aissami will now head two different offices: the vice presidency of the Economic Area, and the newly-created Ministry of Industry and National Production. Maduro said:
I promised an Economic Revolution to build the foundation of future well-being and prosperity. I give the responsibility of the Vice Presidency in this area, to defend the Venezuelan people, to our young man, the experienced and proven revolutionary Tareck El Aissami.
I’ve also created the powerful Ministry of Industry and National Production to unlock and recover Venezuela’s productive force. I also give this task to our brother Tareck El Aissami.
Maduro also made cabinet changes to the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Commerce and International Investment, Ministry of Urban Agriculture, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Women, Ministry of Eco-Socialism, and Ministry of Water Care.
Regime Exiles Political Prisoner
The Maduro regime took another somber step towards authoritarianism today when it exiled a political prisoner by the name of Villca Fernandez from Venezuela. Fernandez, who had been in regime custody since 2016, was released today on the condition that he leave the country immediately.
Upon his release, Fernandez made his way to the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, just north of Caracas, where he boarded a plane to Peru.
The release is unique in Venezuelan modern history in that it was predicated on exile. When Fernandez’ release was ordered by Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, it was ordered on the condition that he leave Venezuela for Peru.
Exile is explicitly banned by Article 50 of the Venezuelan Constitution. The article, which establishes mobility rights, concludes with the following sentence:
No order of [the government] can establish the removal from the national territory of a Venezuelan as a penalty.
Fernandez was arrested in 2016 after attacking PSUV vice president Diosado Cabello on Twitter. At the time of his arrest, the following message was identified as the likely cause of his arrest:
[Diosdado Cabello] your days in power are numbered and you’ve got a lots of dates with justice… I am not AFRAID OF YOU
The image below shows Fernandez and an entourage arriving at the airport this afternoon. Fernandez is the bearded man in blue on the right of the screen:
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