Bloomberg News

Venezuelan Anti-Opposition General Named to Top Defense Post

January 08, 2012

(Updates with Chavez comment in second paragraph.)

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez named Henry Rangel Silva, who vowed not to cooperate with the opposition should they take power, to the post of Defense Minister, replacing Carlos Mata Figueroa.

“I’ve called him here because he’s a humble man, a fighter for the people,” Chavez said in comments from a Catholic Mass broadcast on state television.

Chavez promoted Rangel Silva to General-in-Chief in 2010 after he told the Ultimas Noticias newspaper that the military wouldn’t tolerate an opposition government because it would try to “sell” the country.

Chavez, a former paratrooper who has led South America’s largest oil producer since 1999 and will seek a third consecutive six-year term in October elections, said he’ll replace cabinet members early this year including Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Vice President Elias Jaua.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Rangel Silva and two other officials in 2008 for allegedly assisting narcotics trafficking by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Maduro and Jaua will run for governor of Carabobo and Miranda states, respectively, in December regional elections. Chavez has said Mata Figueroa will run for governor of Nueva Esparta state.

Diosdado Cabello, a close confidant of Chavez and head of his PSUV political party, was sworn in yesterday as the president of the National Assembly.

--Editor: Jonathan Roeder

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: To contact the reporter on this story: Helder Marinho in Sao Paulo at hmarinho@bloomberg.net


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