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Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, center right, accompanied by a group of military commanders, arrives for a session of the Constitutional Assembly, Caracas, Aug. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

As Maduro’s ‘Security Blanket,’ Venezuela’s Military Grabs More Economic Influence

Friday, Dec. 1, 2017

On Nov. 26, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro handed over leadership of the national oil company, PDVSA, to Manuel Quevedo, a general with no experience in the energy sector. The move comes after a series of arrests of officials within PDVSA on corruption charges, including six earlier in November. In an email interview, David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America and curator of the blog Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights, discusses Maduro’s underlying political motivations for the moves and the military’s increasing control of Venezuela’s economy.

WPR: Maduro has arrested around 50 PDVSA officials since August, as well as six officials from Citgo earlier this month on corruption charges. Is this part of a serious attempt to clean up corruption, or are there other, ulterior motives? ...

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