CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro yesterday named Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the constituent assembly, as vice president as he reshuffled his cabinet after his widely-condemned re-election in May.
Rodriguez, 49, was president of the pro-government legislative super body known as the constituent assembly, which critics say Maduro set up last year to override an opposition-controlled national assembly. She was also previously foreign minister.
“I have named as executive vice president a young woman, brave, seasoned, daughter of a martyr, revolutionary and tested in a thousand battles,” Maduro said on Twitter.
Rodriguez replaces Tareck El Aissami, who will become industry and national production minister, Maduro said.
The United States has sanctioned El Aissami for alleged links to drug trafficking, along with numerous other high-ranking officials in Venezuela. Canada sanctioned Rodriguez, along with 39 other officials, last September for “anti-democratic behavior.
Maduro’s re-election on May 20 has been condemned by the United States and other Latin American nations as an undemocratic farce. In response, the United States imposed new sanctions on Venezuela’s all-important oil industry.
Critics say Maduro has resorted to increasingly authoritarian tactics as Venezuela’s economy has spiraled deeper into recession, fueling discontent with Maduro’s Socialist agenda. Maduro accuses the United States of an “economic war” against Venezuela and trying to delegitimize a democratic victory.
On Wednesday, Maduro announced 10 other minister changes, but did not mention changes in the key ministries of oil, economy and defense.
“From my heart, I am grateful to my brothers and sisters who accompanied me during the darkest times our Republic has experienced in decades,” he said.