Caldera Swears in New Economic Ministers in Second Cabinet Shakeup
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Trying to pull Venezuela out of a deep recession, President Rafael Caldera swore in three new economic ministers Wednesday in the second major cabinet shakeup of his 13-month-old government.
The economy shrank by 3.3 percent last year, while inflation hit 70.8 percent and unemployment passed 11 percent. Over the past year, authorities have seized 16 insolvent banks.
In a brief ceremony at Miraflores palace, Caldera swore in Werner Corrales as minister of development and foreign trade, Edgar Paredes Pisani as minister of planning and Raul Alegrett as minister of agriculture.
Corrales, who had been planning minister, replaced Alberto Poletto, who stepped down Monday in disagreement with the government’s price control policy.
Alegrett, a former head of the state Agriculture Institute, replaced Ciro Anez, who resigned after agricultural prices rose despite a policy of price controls.
Caldera imposed the price and exchange controls last year in an attempt to stem capital flight and curb inflation after Venezuela’s currency plunged in value. He also suspended the rights to own property, travel and meet freely.
Some opposition lawmakers said the cabinet shakeup would be meaningless without clear changes in economic policy.
``These changes were inevitable due to the failure of the price controls,″ said Sen. Antonio Ledezma of the Social-Democrat Democratic Action party. ``But they also prove that there is no global vision, no definition in the economy.″
In the first major cabinet change last May, Caldera replaced the Privatization, Development and Planning ministers. Since Caldera took office in February 1994, he has had four Planning ministers, three Development ministers, two Privatization ministers and two Finance ministers.