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An established Maduro receives the year with changes in his Cabinet | International

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, during a conference in Caracas, on November 30, 2022.
The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, during a conference in Caracas, on November 30, 2022.Mathias Delacroix (Bloomberg)

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, has taken advantage of the Three Kings Day holiday to announce some changes in his Cabinet, now that the pages of the year 2023 are displayed in white with absolute control of power, in the midst of a process of political opening and with the opposition furrowing a new existential crisis.

Pedro Rafael Tellechea has been appointed president of the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), since Yvan Gil has named him the new chancellor. Maduro also appointed Colonel Aníbal Coronado as the new head of government of the Francisco de Miranda island territory, traditionally called Federal Dependencies, which includes the islands and islets of the Venezuelan Caribbean.

“PDVSA will be chaired by Pedro Rafael Tellechea, who with his great experience at the helm of Pequiven, will consolidate the momentum of the national oil industry. All our recognition to the work of Asdrúbal Chávez who will soon have new responsibilities” Maduro wrote on his Twitter account.

The Venezuelan president has made his first statement of the year after scoring several political victories ―the most recent and important, the announcement of the elimination of the interim government of Juan Guaidó―, and gaining space on the international scene. The Chavista government faces, however, new economic clouds. The escalation of prices that threaten to return the country to the zone of hyperinflation, which was believed to be overcome.

Tellechea, a military man and an engineer, one of the current Chavismo managerial cadres, comes from presiding over Pequiven, the state petrochemical company, and replaces Asdrúbal Chávez, an experienced manager of the oil industry, who is credited with stopping the vertiginous fall of the national production since 2016. Tellechea specialized in public finances, was coordinator of the metal-mechanic plant of the Venezuelan Chamber of Military Industries, Cavim, and president of the Venezuelan state aluminum company, Venalum.

Tellechea’s appointment comes to fruition now that the multinational Chevron has obtained a new license – in force within the framework of US sanctions – to expand its operations in Venezuela, with which daily crude oil production could reach one million barrels per day, still less than half of the traditional historical figures. Other multinationals, such as Eni and Repsol, are lobbying and waiting for their moment to obtain permits for the exploitation of national crude oil in 2023.

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With the presidential consent, Martin Philipsen was appointed as the new general manager of Petropiar, one of the mixed companies of the Venezuelan State with private operators created at the time of the current Hydrocarbons law. The appointment of a foreigner at the head of this company has caused surprise in public opinion. Petropiar operates in the Boscán light crude oil fields in Zulia State, and in the Orinoco Oil Belt.

Yván Gil, the new foreign minister, is an agronomist, he was already Maduro’s Minister of Agriculture and Land, and he has been serving as Vice-Minister for Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for some time. He replaces Carlos Farías.

Gil takes office at a time when there is a political environment that is much more favorable to the interests of Chavismo, particularly in Latin America, with a government recovering diplomatic relevance thanks to the return of Lula to power in Brazil and the presidency of Gustavo Petro in Colombia. .

It still has a significant number of knots pending to resolve with the current Democratic Administration of the United States, and with the European Union, in this context of a slow process of mutual recognition and diplomatic gestures with which the international community tries to persuade Caracas to organize some reasonably clean and fair presidential elections.

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