Latin America

Venezuela’s economy chief resigns after just one month on job

Maduro will announce new economic measures under his emergency decree

President Nicolás Maduro addresses party leaders this week.
President Nicolás Maduro addresses party leaders this week.REUTERS

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With just over a month in the job, Venezuela’s Economy Minister Luis Salas has stepped down from his post “for personal reasons,” President Nicolás Maduro announced late Monday.

Salas’s resignation comes as Maduro is trying to introduce new emergency fiscal strategies to help his country cope with an anemic economy, high inflation, food shortages and cuts in revenue caused by the global fall in oil prices.

The government hasn’t introduced any new economic policies in the month since Salas was appointed

“I thank our companion, Salas, who I know has made great efforts to change some situations regarding family matters,” the president said.

Maduro made the announcement during a meeting with leaders from his party to review the economic situation and adopt new measures under his Emergency Economic Decree.

The Supreme Court last Thursday approved the decree after the opposition-controlled National Assembly rejected it in January.

Just five months ago, Maduro presented the 39-year-old Salas, a sociologist, as his new economic chief.

The president had said then that Venezuela would resist the temptation of adopting orthodox macroeconomic adjustments to alleviate the crisis.

“Venezuela will take the road toward economic stability and consolidation of a new advanced social model in developing production,” he said.

However, the government hasn’t introduced any new economic policies in the month since Salas was appointed.

The Maduro administration’s ongoing conflicts with the new National Assembly, and fears that introducing unpopular adjustments would include a political cost for his already weak government, have postponed the new measures.

It’s still not clear whether Salas was fired or if he resigned from the Cabinet.

He will be replaced by Miguel Pérez Abad, who is the current industry and trade minister. Pérez Abad is a businessman close to the “Chavismo” movement and has served for more than a decade as president of the association of small- and medium-size businesses.

His appointment is seen as pragmatic move by the government to concentrate on improving productive sectors in the country.

Maduro said that Salas would continue to work “in other activities with other economic teams directly with me.”

English version by Martin Delfín.

Former Caracas mayor faces 16 years for conspiracy

Caracas’s former opposition mayor Antonio Ledezma appeared Tuesday in court where prosecutors asked a judge to sentence him to 16 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.

Ledezma, who heads the Alianza Bravo Pueblo party, was arrested on February 2015.

Ledezma’s family had hoped that the court would drop the case against him for lack of evidence. But the judge ordered him to stand trial after finding sufficient evidence to support the charges and keep him in custody.

After his arrest, Ledezma was taken to the Ramo Verde military prison where another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, is serving a term for organizing a nationwide protest in which some 40 people were killed in February 2014.

On Abril 30, Ledezma was placed under house arrest following surgery.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly began debating a proposed Amnesty and National Reconciliation Law, which, if passed, will free the country’s “political prisoners.”

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