Venezuela’s Maduro appoints new foreign minister in cabinet reshuffle
Maduro is pushing for sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe to be lifted.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has appointed a new foreign minister in a cabinet reshuffle that comes amid negotiations with the opposition aimed at easing the country’s political impasse.
On Twitter, President Maduro wrote that Felix Placencia, Venezuela’s envoy to China, will now serve as Venezuela’s top diplomat, while outgoing Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza will take over as Minister of Industry and Production.
Maduro wrote that Plasencia “has a great responsibility to continue the excellent diplomatic work done by Jorge Ariza.”
“We must ensure the victory of our peace diplomacy around the world.”
Maduro is pressing for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe on Venezuelan officials and institutions in order to suppress democracy in the South American oil-producing country.
The administration of US President Joe Biden maintained measures against Venezuela’s economy and continued its support for opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Maduro’s latest cabinet reshuffle also brings changes to the education, interior and mining ministries.
Last week, the opposition and the government began talks in Mexico City, with the opposition seeking to improve electoral conditions and release jailed activists while Maduro’s allies push for an end to US sanctions.
On August 16, Maduro had expressed optimism about talks with the opposition, saying at a press conference in Caracas that the discussions were off to a “good start.”
Maduro waved an agreement signed by government and opposition delegates at the Norway-brokered talks hosted by Mexico.
We took the first step: dialogue with those who wanted to kill and overthrow us. In what part of the world does this happen? Maduro said: “We sat down to see the faces of those who wanted to kill us.
He said the negotiations were “really successful”. Discussions are scheduled to resume within three weeks.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who discussed Venezuela’s future with Guaido in March, welcomed the talks in a tweet on August 14.
The announcement of negotiations between Venezuela’s democratic opposition and the Maduro regime is a welcome first step toward restoring democracy. We join the European Union and Canada in urging the parties to reach lasting agreements that lead to the democratic future that Venezuelans deserve.
Secretary Anthony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 14, 2021
The opposition wants Maduro to release dozens of people it considers political prisoners and provide guarantees for its candidates to run in regional elections scheduled for November.
Guaido, who declared himself president of Venezuela in 2019 through his position as speaker of parliament, wants guarantees on electoral conditions and a clear platform for the presidential election.