Ramirez Removed As PDVSA Head, Oil Minister In Venezuela Shake-Up


CARACAS, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday pushed Rafael Ramirez from his twin posts as oil minister and a chief of state oil firm PDVSA in a cabinet shake-up that opposition critics said fell short of the overhaul needed to reverse the OPEC nation's economic decline.

Maduro promoted former PDVSA exploration and production chief Eulogio Del Pino to the company's top job and tapped Asdrubal Chavez, the cousin of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, to lead the energy and mining ministry.

The highly publicized cabinet overhaul is meant to revamp government as a slowing economy, soaring inflation and chronic product shortages have left Maduro seeking to boost flagging oil production and streamline the bloated public sector.

"I talked with Del Pino today. I've given him specific instructions for the process of developing a plan to accelerate and consolidate our oil industry, the bastion of our republic," Maduro said in a roughly three-hour televised speech.

Ramirez was named oil minister in 2002 and was tapped to simultaneously run PDVSA in 2004.

Critics widely panned the move as a shuffle of the same faces that have dominated the cabinet for the last decade, insisting the only solution to Venezuela's crisis is to abandon the state-centered economic model created under Chavez.

"The president decided to switch around ministers," Luis Vicente Leon, the director of pollster Datanalisis, said on Twitter. "Nothing was announced to tackle the causes of the crisis. So for now the crisis can only worsen."


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