Chávez Appoints Defense Minister as Candidate

By Dialogo
October 31, 2012

On October 29 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, appointed General Henry Rangel Silva, his minister of defense and close collaborator, to run as candidate for governor of Trujillo state (west). Regional elections will be held in December.

The head of state said that Rangel Silva will be replaced by Navy Commander, Admiral Diego Molero Bellavia.

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced the decision at a press conference, and explained that the former minister will replace Hugo Cabezas, who initially was to run for re-election as governor of Trujillo, but later resigned his candidacy at Chávez’s discretion on October 28.

“We know that Rangel Silva is going to bring together all revolutionary forces in this state,” said Cabello, and added that the party had to “convince” the retired military officer to run as candidate.

Chávez, who was reelected for a third term in office during the October 7 elections, appointed Rangel Silva as Minister of Defense on January 6, 2012. Silva is accused by the United States of being involved with the Colombian FARC guerrillas and drug trafficking.

In response to these accusations, the U.S. Treasury Department froze Silva’s assets in 2008, at a time when he served as director of the Venezuelan intelligence services, in that country.

Despite the allegation, Chávez maintained his support for the military officer. In 2010, he promoted Silva to Commander in Chief, the highest rank in the Venezuelan Military, days after declaring in an interview that the Military was “married” to the president’s political project, and to whom they swore “complete loyalty.”

Facing regional elections on December 16, several cabinet members launched their candidacies for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), such as former Vice President Elías Jaua, former Minister of Interior and Justice Tareck El Aissami, and former Minister of Indigenous People Nicia Maldonado, who are running for governors of Miranda (north), Aragua (north), and Amazonia (south), respectively.