Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has appointed a military general to head the state oil company, PDVSA, and the country’s energy ministry.
He said that Major General Manuel Quevedo (pictured) would oversee “a new oil revolution” to tackle corruption. The move followed the arrest of executives of Citgo, the oil company’s US refining subsidiary, and after PDVSA and Venezuela were declared in selective default for failing to meet payments on bonds.
PDVSA accounts for about 95% of the country’s export earnings but output has been in steep decline for years. Maduro said that increased productivity was a top priority.
As oil production flags, Maduro’s administration appears to be switching blame for the country’s spiralling economic crisis from the opposition to officials in the oil industry – around 50 managers at PDVSA have been arrested since August.
Gen Quevedo is an officer in the National Guard, which played a key role in subduing violent anti-Maduro protests in 2014. He was formerly a minister of housing, and has no known significant experience in the energy sector.