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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 02:14 GMT 03:14 UK
Venezuela president names new cabinet
President Hugo Chavez
Chavez: Criticised over economic management
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Adam Easton
BBC correspondent in Caracas
line

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reshuffled his cabinet following a failed coup attempt last month.


Those who are against me are not my enemies

President Chavez
Among the changes are a new economic team.

Mr Chavez's management of the economy has been severely criticised by his opponents, who led a series of anti-government protests over recent months which led to his brief removal from office.

Venezuela is the world's fourth largest oil exporter but its economy is facing a crisis and is expected to contract this year.

'Not enemies'

Speaking on his weekly radio phone-in show, Mr Chavez said his new-found spirit of reflection had prompted him to make the cabinet changes.

The Venezuelan leader has been keen to emphasise his willingness to negotiate following the deaths of more than 40 people in the coup attempt which saw him ousted and reinstated within 48 hours.

Mr Chavez told listeners that the newly-installed Commission for National Dialogue would not exclude anyone.

"Those who are against me are not my enemies," he said.

'Right direction'

As if to prove the point, he named orthodox economist and occasional government critic, Tobias Nobrega, as his new finance minister.

He also replaced the leftist head of his economic team, Planning Minister Jorge Giordani - whose policies have been blamed for causing Venezuela's economic problems.

Mr Chavez, a keen baseball fan, said Mr Giordani had been a great pitcher but that sometimes the manager needs to change his team.

Economists said the appointments were a cautious step in the right direction.

Mr Chavez also rewarded his supporters who remained loyal to him during the coup.

Former vice president Diosdado Cabello was shifted to the interior ministry and the head of the armed forces, General Lucas Rincon, was given the job of defence minister.

The general now has the difficult task of rebuilding unity within a military deeply divided over Mr Chavez.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Business
Currency plunges on Chavez return
16 Apr 02 | Americas
Chavez's 'plane of shame'
14 Apr 02 | Americas
Analysis: After the would-be coup
16 Apr 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Venezuela
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