Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations since 2014 and former Petroleos de Venezuela head, resigned from his post amid a string of arrests at the oil giant he used to run, he said in a tweet. “This was a very hard decision to make,” he wrote in attached photos of a letter addressed to Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, and dated yesterday. “Nevertheless, after the decision of the president, I did not have any other choice.”
An official for Venezuela’s information ministry declined to comment on whether Ramirez’s resignation was connected to the gover- nment’s recent detentions. State news agency AVN reported that Samuel Moncada was named as the country’s new UN ambassador.
President Nicolas Maduro has embarked on a wide-reaching purge at PDVSA, with more than 65 officials of the company and its joint ventures in custody so far. Maduro and Ramirez have been intense rivals for years, and the vast bulk of the executives imprisoned by his forces are considered disciples or allies of latter. The sense from Venezuelan watchers is that having successfully crushed the political opposition, Maduro is turning his attention to his enemies from within Chavismo as he prepares to run for re-election next year.
“I have a name and a career that has been permanently under public scrutiny and domain. I will not stand for disrespect. Attacking me personally affects the unity of the revolutionary forces and the legacy of Chavez,” Ramirez wrote.
Ramirez, 54, rose to power as oil minister in 2002, during late Hugo Chavez’s regime. Two years later, he also took the lead at PDVSA and held onto it for a decade, breaking a long-standing separation between the country’s Energy Ministry and the company it was
meant to oversee.
Ramirez was behind the trademark slogan “roja, rojita,” first using it during a speech in PDVSA’s auditorium more than a decade ago. It was adopted by Chavez and his supporters, who commonly dressed in red uniforms and berets to reflect their allegiance to the