[News] A Solid Foundation for Socialism - Venezuela's Maduro Restructures Several Government Ministries

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 17 15:20:55 EST 2014

  "A Solid Foundation for Socialism of the 21st Century": Venezuela's
  Maduro Restructures Several Government Ministries and Institutions


By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Mérida, 16th January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- Venezuelan president 
Nicolas Maduro has ordered a restructuring of public institutions 
related to the economy and consumer protection during a four hour speech 
to the nation.

The shake-up came less than a week after Maduro reshuffled his cabinet 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10273>, appointing new ministers in 
the areas of labour, industry, education, higher education, sport, youth 
and the chief of staff.

During the annual state of the nation address delivered to the National 
Assembly (AN) yesterday, Maduro also warned he would use an "iron fist" 
to deliver harsher penalties for "sabotage and speculation".

"We fully understand what...it's going to cost to make the Venezuelan 
economy fortified and sustainable in promoting jobs, diversification of 
our productive enterprises in providing value to our goods and in 
socialising the means of production," Maduro stated during the address, 
which continued into the evening.

This was his first state of the nation speech since being elected last 
April. His four hour talk was less than half the length of Chavez's 
record 9.5 hour address two years ago.

However, the president issued a defiant warning to his opponents, to not 
underestimate him.

"For those that underestimate me from the left and the extreme right, I 
say that I'm a socialist and I know what I'm doing," he stated.

The president also defied predictions that he would devalue the bolivar 
currency, stating that the current fixed exchange rate will be kept in 
place for a "long time forward".

"Venezuela has sufficient resources to keep the foreign exchange [rate] 
at [Bs ] 6.30 to the dollar," Maduro stated.

"We will continue fighting [the currency blackmarket]...Sicad will 
fulfil its function," he said, referring to the Complimentary System of 
Foreign Currency Acquirement (Sicad).

Established last year <http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/9868>, Sicad 
holds foreign currency auctions for individuals and businesses, selling 
dollars at a higher rate than the fixed exchange value.

Sicad was originally intended to operate parallel to the Foreign 
Exchange Administration Commission (Cadivi), which used to be the main 
government body that regulated the distribution of foreign currency. 
However, yesterday Maduro announced that Cadivi will be merged with the 
recently announced National Centre of Exterior Commerce 

He also named Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming as the head of the new 

The public banking ministry has also been folded into the finance 
ministry, which will now be headed by current Minister of Public Banking 
Rodolfo Marco.

Marco replaces Nelson Merentes, who had been moved from the BCV 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/8765> in April. Merentes was widely 
viewed as more market-friendly than his predecessor. At the time, 
Merentes had been urged by Maduro to produce "achieve single digit 
inflation" within three years. Merentes will now resume his former 
position heading the BCV. Last year Venezuela's annual inflation rate 
was around 56%.

Maduro called on Marco to oversee the construction of "a new financial 
model that can allow for all these investments that we need, that will 
allow the expansion of a financial system at the service of the country".

Marco was imprisoned alongside Hugo Chavez due to his involvement in 
Chavez's failed 1992 coup attempt. Like Merentes, Marco is widely viewed 
as a moderate figure.

Along with heading the banking ministry, Marco has also previously 
managed the state-owned Banco de Venezuela.

*Indepabis and Sundecop Merge*

The Institute for the Defence of the People's Access to Goods and 
Services (Indepabis) and the National Superintendency for Fair Costs and 
Prices (Sundecop) will also be merged into a single institution, to be 
headed by Minister for Women and Gender Equality Andreina Tarazon.

Beneath Tarazon, former Sundecop head Karlin Granadillo has been charged 
with overseeing costs and earnings calculations sections, while General 
Luis Motta Dominguez will manage the institution's fair price oversight 

Since being taken over by Eduardo Saman last June 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/9724>, Indepabis has undertaken a 
nationwide crackdown on price gouging and violations of price controls 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/9963>. Saman was appointed with a 
mandate to clean up Indepabis to after an alleged extortion ring was 
discovered operating within the institution. However, in July Saman had 
some of his authority revoked <http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/9876> 
after he dismissed a number of Indepabis regional heads.

Then in October, Saman survived an attack 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10070> by three assailants armed with 
handguns and explosives, which he claimed was an attempted assassination.

Police suspected at the time the incident was an attempted robbery.

Saman's official position following the merger has yet to be announced.


Despite describing Venezuela's economic growth in 2013 as "very 
successful", Maduro stated that he intends to deepen reform to counter 
what he describes as an "economic war".

Venezuela's economy grew by 1.4% in the first three quarters of 2013 

However, Maduro stated that 99% of businesses inspected by authorities 
last year were inappropriately pricing goods, with "no economic 

The next law Maduro says he intends to pass with his decree powers will 
cap businesses' profit margins to 30%. The law will be drafted in the 
coming days, according to the president.

Maduro was handed presidential decree powers 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10178> under the Enabling Law by the 
AN last November.

A statement <http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/documento/show/id/551> 
released by the AN following the enacting of the Enabling Law said that 
Maduro had been empowered to pass legislation to "fight corruption, 
usury, money laundering and the economic war unleashed in recent times 
against the country by the national oligarchy".

"While the government makes a big effort to guarantee the quality of 
some services and the availability of products, the mafias speculate 
with other products and even medicines," he stated.

Maduro pledged to continue to use his decree powers to counter "both 
abuse and outrages" of the economy in 2014, and stated he would put 
price gougers "behind bars" with tougher penalties for "sabotage and 

"With the economic war the bourgeoisie have shown a cruelty that is 
comparable only to the acts of 2002," Maduro stated, referring to 
shortages of consumer goods ranging from milk to cooking oil and toilet 

"How can you describe someone who hides formula milk for babies [from 
supermarket shelves]? We cannot create a new euphemism for that," he stated.

"That person must be described as a criminal," Maduro said.

Both scarcity and inflation levels spiked 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10201> in 2013.

"There won't be any forgiveness to those who keep robbing the 
people...they're speculating with food and medicine," he said.

*Investment Plan*

Along with promising to chastise businesses that act inappropriately, 
Maduro also stated his government aims to coax foreign investors to 
Venezuela. According to Maduro, the government's plan will focus on 
promoting investment in 11 key areas, including: petroleum, 
petrochemicals, construction, industry, agriculture, agriculture, 
manufacturing, tourism, textiles, mining and communication.

"I call to all national and international entrepreneurs who are 
investing in Venezuela," he said.

Some incentives will be provided to investors, though Maduro didn't go 
into details.

He also stated Bs 25.5 billion would be invested in public works 
nationwide in the coming years.

*Media and Security*

In yet another announcement during the speech, Maduro called for a 
national review of the country's media landscape. The president accused 
the private media of promoting "guns, drugs, violence and betrayal".

Minister for Communication and Information Delcy Rodríguez along with 
the board of the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) were 
ordered to undertake an official review, while the president also called 
for a public debate on the media and violence.

"I think there needs to be an honest, open discussion, open debate," he 

Earlier this week the president slammed Venezuela's media 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10276> for turning former Miss 
Venezuela Monica Spear's murder into a "show".

Maduro also stated he would strengthen his government's anti-crime and 
anti-violence initiatives, including the Safe Homeland Plan.

"I call upon young men to be able to challenge and demolish the culture 
of violence, drugs, individualism, hatred and greed," he stated.

He also urged all governors and mayors to back the Safe Homeland Plan, 
regardless of political affiliation.

"We have to be building peace for communities, families; peace grounded 
in values of respect for life, coexistence, social peace based on a new 
culture that overcomes the negative values of the culture of death, 
greed, ambition and wealth that are given to us by the great national 
and international media," Maduro said.

"We'll build a culture of work, overcome consumerism as social deviance 
and cast a solid foundation for socialism of the 21^st Century," he said.

Maduro also devoted a portion of his speech to reflecting on last year.

"2013 was a year of love, loyalty and victory over pain and 
difficulties. We turned grief into strength and life in joy," Maduro stated.

Referring to the April and December elections, Maduro stated that 
"democracy is only meaningful if it meets the needs of the people and 
not the accumulation of wealth".

The president pointed to the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez as a 
low point in the year, but emphasised that the Bolivarian Revolution 
would continue nonetheless.

"The enemies of Hugo Chavez were wrong, the great revolution did not 
vanish [when Chavez died]," he stated.

Published on Jan 16th 2014 at 8.11pm

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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