Crisis in Venezuela: the US imposes more sanctions and Maduro renews ministers

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Mike Pompeo announced measures against the electoral authorities, among them the head of the National Electoral Council, Indira Alfonzo.

The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, appointed this Friday to eight new ministers for the portfolios that had become headless after their holders were registered as pro-government candidates in the legislative elections of December 6. Almost at the same time, from Washington, new sanctions were announced against the Chavista regime.

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced sanctions against the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela, Indira Alfonzo, against the principal rector of that body, Jose Luis Gutierrez, as well as against the attorney general of Venezuela, Reinaldo Muñoz, and against David De Lima, former governor of the state of Anzoátegui.

In a statement, Pompeo said he decided to sanction those four individuals for their “participation” in Maduro’s alleged efforts to “manipulate” the CNE and the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) in order to “deprive the Venezuelan people of free and fair elections“.

With these sanctions, the US seeks freeze all assets that the four Venezuelans may have in the country and are prohibited from making financial transactions with any US citizen; which in theory makes it difficult for them to access the international financial system, based on the dollar.

The United States has previously condemned the legislative elections that Venezuela plans to hold on December 6 and to which 27 opposition parties will not appear, considering that there are no possible conditions to go to the polls.

Maduro, meanwhile, announced new appointments in his cabinet through his account on the social network Twitter, in which he indicated that he is “complying with the substitutions of the compatriots who assumed the electoral battle“.

Among the ministerial changes, the appointment of Freddy Ñánez, current president of the state channel VTV, as the new Minister of Communication, replacing Jorge Rodríguez.

“His determination and firmness at the head of VTV will add strength to the communication policy of the Revolution,” Maduro added about Ñáñez, who was infected by COVID-19 in mid-July when the Government reported an outbreak of coronavirus on the channel public that affected almost fifty workers.

The Ministry of Penitentiary Services will pass from the hands of Iris Varela to those of Mirelys Contreras, who was deputy minister of that portfolio for Attention to Prisoners of Liberty.

Contreras was already the head of this ministry in the second semester of 2017, when Varela withdrew for six months also to aspire to a seat as a member of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC).

At the beginning of 2018, Varela regained the helm of this portfolio that he has directed since it was created in 2011.

Contreras “will continue with the work of building a better and more humane prison system,” Maduro said on Friday.

Other portfolios were occupied by known leaders of Chavismo such as Mervin Maldonado, who assumes the Ministry for Youth and Sports, and Carolys Pérez, who will cease to be undersecretary of the ANC to lead the office in the cabinet for Women and Gender Equality.

Maduro also designated names less known like Magaly Henríquez, the new Minister for Mining and Ecological Development, who, according to the president, is a “young doctor with extensive experience in the area.”

Likewise, the president appointed Yamilet Mirabal de Chirino as head for the Indigenous Peoples and Greicys Barrios, in charge of the Urban Agriculture portfolio.

In addition, the constituent Noris Herrera was appointed as the new Minister for Communes and Social Movements, while Major General José Adelino Ornelas was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Commander-in-Chief “so that he continues to strengthen all professional capacity to the highest level” of the Armed Forces.


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