Che’s Battle Comrade Becomes Maduro’s New Economic Adviser
Cuba’s Dominance over Venezuela Out in the Open for All to See
On Tuesday, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro announced a new economic adviser for his cabinet, Orlando Borrego. Unlike the rest of his presidential team, Borrego’s appointment has caused quite a stir. His past as Che Guevara’s battle companion during the Cuban revolution, along with high-level posts under the Castro’s regime, has fueled speculation of a eventual radicalization for Maduro’s socialist model.
With an implied annual inflation rate of 140 percent, Maduro has had little choice but to shuffle the staff of his economic bureau. With former Minister of Planning Jorge Giordani out of the picture, the potential for a less-orthodox socialism arose. However, such hopes faded with Maduro’s most recent appointment:
“Orlando Borrego … is assigned to a special team alongside the minister for planning, Ricardo Menéndez, Jesús Martínez [minister for labor] and other colleagues who are preparing a set of plans… to execute a complete and deep revolution in the public administration, in the state administration, a revolution inside the revolution,” the president stated on Tuesday during his weekly radio show, In Contact With Maduro.
Borrego, a 77-year-old economist who acquired his education in Havana and Moscow, “was a peer of Ernesto Che Guevara in the battles of the revolution,” Maduro explained.
Among promises of restructuring the whole regime, Venezuela’s president has had to battle to recover after harsh accusations from hard-line Chavistas, such as former Minister Giordani and former Minister Navarro.
Two weeks ago, after Giordani was dismissed from Maduro’s cabinet, he wrote an open letter denouncing acts of corruption, lack of leadership, and bad economic management. Ultimately, he believes there has been a loss of bearings in the Chavista revolution since Chávez’s death.
“It’s painful and concerning to see a presidency that doesn’t give the impression of any leadership, and seems to repeat, without any coherence, the proposals made by Commander Chávez,” the letter said.
Giordani was not only a close ally of the late Hugo Chávez, but his mentor in economic policy. After the letter was published, the Chavistas didn’t take long to react. However, the reception was mixed: some backed Giordani, and even called for an open debate on his claims, while others criticized his actions calling him “anti-revolutionary.”
Just a few days later, another high-profile Chavista, Héctor Navarro, issued his own letter in support of Giordani’s claims, and calling for an open investigation into the alleged acts of corruption.
“I believe it’s our responsibility to discuss what is important, and I think the president must; he needs to reflect in front of all of us, act according to his responsibility as statesman, and take on this challenge.”
Navarro was soon suspended from his party, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and called to attend a disciplinary hearing.
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