| CARACAS, June 18
CARACAS, June 18 Venezuela's former planning
minister, who helped the late president Hugo Chavez forge the
country's state-driven economic model, has excoriated current
president Nicholas Maduro as a weak leader who is straying from
socialism, according to a widely circulated document.
The comments attributed to Jorge Giordani, which could not
be independently verified, echoed many opposition criticisms of
the president and suggested Maduro's efforts to overhaul
Chavez-era economic controls may come at a significant political
Maduro on Tuesday removed Giordani, a Marxist academic who
helped create the price caps and foreign exchange controls, from
the planning ministry in a move hailed as a sign of pragmatism.
"It is painful and alarming to see a presidency that does
not demonstrate leadership but rather seeks to affirm it by
repeating Commander Chavez's ideas without the proper
coherence," reads the document.
It was emailed to Reuters from an account identified as
Ramon Yanez, who had served as one of Giordani's deputy
ministers. Giordani was not available for comment.
It was not immediately evident what type of document it was,
when it was written or to whom it was directed.
The document entitled "Testimony and Historic
Responsibility" warned of "capitalist financial mechanisms that
will help private individuals capture oil revenue," an apparent
reference to a foreign exchange market created this year.
It also says Maduro ignored proposals to attack corruption
in the currency control system, which officials have estimated
cost the country some $30 billion.
Wall Street has applauded Giordani's exit, saying it heralds
greater pragmatism in economic decision-making as Maduro's
government struggles with slowing growth and inflation above 60
Giordani has advocated more state control over foreign
exchange, and in 2010 led a campaign to shutter a legal parallel
market that boosted the supply of dollars.
Maduro's economic team is going in the opposite direction.
It has lifted restrictions on private firms buying and selling
dollars and launched the Sicad 2 currency platform, which
effectively devalued the bolivar by 88 percent.
Economy Vice President Rafael Ramirez recently told
investors in London that Venezuela plans to unify three official
exchange rates, which economists broadly see as the first step
toward improving growth.
Opposition critics have frequently blamed Giordani for
chronic product shortages, saying his management of currency
controls left businesses unable to import raw materials and
machine parts because they could not get access to dollars.
Dubbed "The Monk" for his modest lifestyle, his supporters
praised his asceticism in contrast to the opulence enjoyed by
many high-ranking public officials.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)