Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has offered to renovate his government and end the dispute with the former ministers who recently criticized his leadership.
The group of five former ministers made criticisms of Maduro’s performance in a series of public letters following the dismissal of orthodox economic figure Jorge Giordani from his post as planning minister.
The group, which included Giordani, argued that the Venezuelan president lacked leadership, had not done enough to combat corruption, and was promoting economic policies that would allow private capital to appropriate the country’s oil wealth.
Maduro and other top officials rejected the criticisms as unfounded and divisive, and suggested that some of the comments represented a “betrayal” of the Bolivarian project. This drew indignation from the dissenters’ supporters and provoked lively debate within the Bolivarian movement.
Many on the left of chavismo argued that the public letters should lead to a frank debate about the direction of the Bolivarian revolution.
Meanwhile some private media outlets labeled the rift as a “civil war” in the government over planned policies to reform aspects of the state regulatory framework in the context of the product shortages, high inflation and currency exchange pressures Venezuela has been experiencing.
On Friday Maduro attempted to end the internal dispute by offering to renovate his government and “turn the page” on the differences expressed. The former ministers who made the public criticisms have not since issued any fresh attacks on Maduro’s administration.
In a speech made on national television during the annual journalism awards ceremony, Maduro called on his critics to help create “unity” in chavismo.
“I call for us to turn the page on the fighting that has presented itself, with letters here and letters there. Alright, fine! We’ve said everything we had to say to each other, done. Now, the hand is held out and the hug is ready to give to all those friends who did this and that: and to continue our course toward the unification of revolutionary forces, which is the most important thing to look after,” he said.
Maduro also promised a “restructuring” of his government during the next month in order to take into account different proposals and to achieve “maximum efficiency”.
“Proposals are welcome! There is always criticism and self-criticism within proposals. I want to completely revise everything [of the government’s work], and to criticise myself in front of the people, to assume responsibility for everything bad or not done, but to also call for work,” he said.
The Venezuelan president continued, “Criticism and self-criticism cannot be to flagellate and destroy yourself, but rather to gain more strength and momentum to overcome problems, obstacles, and to find the way forward”.
According to the latest opinion poll by private firm Hinterlaces, the most pressing challenge for the government is to improve the economy, with 80% of respondents saying that the economic situation is the country’s greatest problem.
The poll found that 49% of respondents approved of Maduro’s performance, against 49% that had a neutral or negative opinion of his management, and 2% that didn’t express an opinion.
According to journalist Jose Vicente Rangel, who discussed the poll on Sunday during his weekly current affairs show, the results were a slight improvement on Hinterlaces’ previous monthly poll, when 52% expressed a neutral or negative stance toward the Venezuelan president.