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October 22, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014

Maduro Cabinet offers en masse resignation

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro pictured at Wednesday’s meeting with governors and mayors.

Political renewal sought as police make arrests in Spear-Barry double murder

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro surprised the Caracas political establishment yesterday by announcing on Twitter that his entire cabinet has offered its resignation.

Maduro announced in a tweet that, “I have received letters from all of the ministers offering their resignation to faciliate the government’s renewal in this year that is just beginning”, which he immediately followed up with “I would like to thank all of the ministers for their dedication and loyalty that they have shown in these revolutionary times. Chávez lives! The nation continues!”

Speaking later on televison, Maduro said that “in the next few days I will complete the necessary adjustments for the economic battle, for the social battle.”

In the meantime, Interior Minister Major Miguel Rodríguez Torres, Defence Minister Admiral Carmen Meléndez and Communications Minister Delcy Rodríguez have retained their positions. The crucial Finance, Planning and Vice-President for the Economy portfolios are still pending and it remains to be seen if pragmatists or radicals will be confirmed in those positions. Maduro had already announced a new chief of police on Wednesday.

2014 has been identified by analysts as likely to be a challenging year for Maduro as he must contend with chronic problems that are the result of 10 years of distortions generated by currency and price controls.

Crime has been increasingly identified as a major worry for Venezuelans, and the homicide rate has been ranked by the United Nations as the 5th worst in the world.

Continued commotion

The announcement comes on the heels of an ongoing commotion in Venezuela following the murder of Mónica Spear, a former Miss Venezuela, along with her husband on Monday night and Tuesday’s murders of Guido Méndez, a university professor and his mother. At the meeting, Maduro and Enrique Capriles, leader of the opposition, took the surprising step of shaking hands for the first time in just under a year.

Arrests announced

Investigators announced that they have identified the shooter that killed Spear and Berry, confirming the arrest of seven suspects, an ongoing search for four more people that have already been identified and that the motive behind the deaths was robbery. As a result, the Venezuelan forensic police consider the investigative component of the case to be closed.

José Sierralta, of the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas (CICPC, forensic police) made the announcements during a press conference yesterday afternoon. Sierralta confirmed the arrest of members of criminal gang known as the Sanguinarios de El Cambur. Those arrested are Jean Carlos Colina, 19 years old and accused of firing the fatal shots that killed Spear and Berry and also injured their five-year-old daughter. Arrested along with Colina were Adolfo Rico, aged 26, Alejandro Maldo-nado, aged 21, Eva Armas, aged 39 and Leonar Marcanao, of unknown age but accused of being the leader of the criminal gang.Two minors aged 17 and 15 were also arrested.

All of those detained are awaiting formal charges that the Prosecutor’s Office has said it will be presenting shortly. In addition, Sierralta underlined that Nelfrín Jiménez, aged 21 and thought to have the murder weapon in his posession, Franklin Cordero, aged 28, Gerardo Contreras, aged 18 and another suspect known as “El Junior” are being sought in connection with the double murder. The motive has been identified as robbery and in Eva Armas’ residence police found “a professional digital camera that was property of Ms Spear.”

Sierralta was also able to confirm that after the arrests the police had completely disrupted the gang’s activities in Carabobo province.

Herald with AP, Télam

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