This Thursday, August 19, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, announced changes in five ministries of his cabinet, after several members of the Executive were elected to be candidates for the regional elections scheduled for November 21.
Among the changes that Maduro made, one of the most significant was the post of Foreign Minister of the Republic. The president announced that Jorge Arreaza would be replaced by Félix Plasencia—now responsible for planning, organizing and executing Venezuela’s foreign policy, under President Maduro’s direction.
Asimismo, designé como nuevo Canciller de la República al Licenciado Félix Plasencia. Tiene la inmensa responsabilidad de continuar la excelente labor diplomática desempeñada por Jorge Arreaza. Cada vez más, hagamos triunfar en el mundo nuestra Diplomacia de Paz.
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) August 19, 2021
Plasencia has a degree in International Studies, is an expert in international negotiation, and a veteran member of Venezuelan diplomacy since 1991. He also holds a master’s degree in European Studies from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and a postgraduate degree in Diplomatic Studies from the University of Oxford, New College, England.
Plasencia, a career diplomat, already held a diplomatic post at the Venezuelan embassy in London by the end of the second term of Rafael Caldera (1994-1999) and according to local media forged a friendship with the current Venezuelan Vice President, Delcy Rodríguez. He returned London as counsel in 2006, when Nicolas Maduro was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Delcy Rodríguez was Deputy Minister for Europe, during the mandate of Commander Hugo Chávez.
From 2012 to 2014 he was director of international relations of the Caracas mayor’s office, during Jorge Rodríguez’s tenure as mayor. In addition, Plasencia has served as president of Fundapatrimonio, the Caracas mayor’s office for historic landmarks.
He assumed the ambassadorship of Venezuela in Beijing in November 2020. Plasencia also served previously as Minister of Tourism (2019) and Vice Minister for Asia, Middle East and Oceania, Vice Minister for Multilateral Organizations, and Director of Protocol in the Foreign Relations portfolio from 2014 to 2017, when Delcy Rodríguez was the top Venezuelan diplomat.
He also quietly participated, on behalf of the government, in the international contact group created by the European Union last year, and was one of the liaisons during the 2019 visit to Venezuela of Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The new foreign minister’s first major challenge is opening negotiations with the political opposition in Mexico City, from where a “memorandum of understanding” was signed last Friday establishing the roadmap for the dialogue. Among the points established in the memorandum was the lifting of illegal US and European sanctions that affect millions of Venezuelans. In addition to his responsibility, Plasencia will be tasked with continuing Arreaza’s work as defender of the Venezuelan reality before international bodies and other nations.
— Felix Plasencia (@PLASENCIAFELIX) August 19, 2021
Other cabinet changes
Maduro also announced Admiral Remigio Ceballos Ichaso’s appointment as the new Minister of Internal Relations, Justice and Peace. Yelitze Santaella is now in charge of the Ministry for Education, while the Ministry for Women and Gender Equality will be represented by Margaud Godoy. In Ecological Mining Development, Admiral William Serantes Pinto was also appointed.
Mervin Maldonado, Minister for Youth and Sports, will take over as Vice President of the Government for Social and Territorial Socialism, with the aim of guaranteeing the well-being of the Venezuelan people.
Featured image: New Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Felix Plasencia. File photo
(RedRadioVE) by Daniela Jimenez, with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune