Photo: Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, just days after winning reelection for the 2013-2019 term, on Wednesday launched reforms in his Cabinet and named Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his new vice president, replacing Elias Jaua, who will compete in a regional gubernatorial election in December against opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
“Up until this week we’ve had Elias as vice president. He’s been an excellent vice president: Thank-you, Elias,” said Chavez after being proclaimed by the National Elections Council, or CNE, as the winner of last Sunday’s presidential election with 55.26 percent of the votes over Capriles’ 44.13 percent.
At the CNE headquarters and before a packed auditorium, Chavez joked, “I don’t recommend being vice president of the Republic to anyone,” adding that the job is not an “easy thing” to put up with.
“So, I want us to give a round of applause - of support, of encouragement - to the new vice president, who is Nicolas Maduro,” said Chavez, dressed in a black suit and red tie, who on Sunday won reelection for the third time.
Chavez said that Maduro “has been a great public servant” since being elected a congressman and through his stint as foreign minister, which began in August 2006.
“Look where Nicolas was going, a bus driver. Nicolas was a bus driver for the metro and how they joked about him, the bourgeoisie makes jokes,” said the Venezuelan leader recalling Maduro’s blue-collar past, although eventually, the future vice president came to head a union of Caracas metro drivers.
Chavez did not say whom he would select to replace Maduro as foreign minister, but he did make note Elias Jaua’s political future.
Some months ago, Chavez said that he would dispatch Jaua to run for the governorship of the central state of Miranda, which has been governed since 2008 by Capriles, who on Wednesday confirmed that he will run for reelection there.
Jaua, whom Chavez called a “noble, working, honest, dedicated, intelligent and humble” man, has served as Venezuela’s vice president since January 2010.
This first Cabinet shuffle is part of the “dynamic that has already come into play, the new engines” for the 2013-2019 term, Chavez said in his speech after being officially declared the election winner.
Last Sunday, amid heavy voter turnout, Chavez was elected to a fourth consecutive term.