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Venezuela: Maduro Hands over Power to Defense Minister

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Jul 13, 2016, 9:27 am
All state ministers will be under the "order and absolute subordination" of Chief General, Padrino López (Descifrado)
Venezuela: Maduro hands over economic power to Defense Minister López as the country emulates Cuba. (Descifrado)

EspañolAlthough Nicolás Maduro is still the president of Venezuela, he handed over economic power to the Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino López, on Monday, July 11.

The Venezuelan power structure now resembles the Castros’ Cuba to an even greater degree than before. Due to Maduro’s creation of a new bureaucratic entity, the Great Mission for Sovereign and Safe Supply, every ministry in the country that deals with economic issues will be completely subordinated to General López’s authority.

López is now in charge of pharmacies, food, commercial distribution, and the management of the country’s ports. He will also oversee all “missions,” state-run social programs.

According to President Maduro,

All ministries and government institutions are subordinated to the National Command of the Great Mission for Safe Sovereign and Safe Supply, which is under the command of the President and of the top General, Vladimir Padrino López.

Maduro added that this measure is part of his Economic Emergency Decree.

With the announcement, López, who was recently appointed Minister of Defense, becomes the second most powerful man in Venezuelan politics.

Maduro also pointed out that Venezuela won’t import any food or foreign products, insisting that all goods will be produced in the country:

(We will have) sovereign supply with Venezuelan labor. No more imports. Let’s understand (the situation) and face it. We have the means (to produce), we know how, we can do it, Venezuela.

The strongman, however, failed to explain how economic self-sufficiency would be possible for Venezuela at a moment in which most industries have either shut down or lack the raw materials necessary to operate.

Maduro explained that his economic plan consists of seven pillars:

  • sustained and efficient production
  • logistics and distribution
  • new commercialization processes
  • Systems of costs, profits, and prices
  • consolidation of a production
  • security and legal defense
  • research, development, and imports substitution

Maduro’s announcement came in the midst of a worsening economic crisis. On Sunday, July 11, thousands of Venezuelans desperately crossed the border into Colombia in order to buy food and medicine.

Meanwhile, the Mercosur regional block is debating whether or not to allow Venezuela to assume the organization’s temporal presidency later this year due to human rights violations in the country.

Cuban economy is also in the hands of the military

In Cuba, the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) have a monopoly over all the main sectors of the country’s economy, most notably the tourism industry.

The Cuban military controls Cimex Corporation and the Business Administration Group (Gaesa), important corporate bodies that oversee the flow of remittances and the trade of foreign currency in the island. These companies receives state funding and enjoy privileges granted to no other Cuban entity.

Gaesa’s 18 corporations, for instance, control port logistics, tourism centers, restaurants, hotels, real estate agencies, and even the transportation industry.

For its part, Cimex’s business divisions control the sale of beverages as well as communications, technology, and maritime transport.  They are also involved in running retail services like photography, cafeterias, couriers, and shops, among them jewelry stores, and real estate and public relations agencies.

No Cuban state-run company offers public information over income, profits, investments, or corporate accountability. The only available data is the amount of foreign currency coming into the country, which goes into a single account in the Cuban National Bank. The central doesn’t publish public information.

Sabrina Martín Sabrina Martín

Sabrina Martín is a Venezuelan journalist, commentator, and editor based in Valencia with experience in corporate communication. Follow @SabrinaMartinR.