Chavez appoints woman as new vice president

CARACAS, Venezuela, AP

President Hugo Chavez on Sunday appointed Adina Bastidas Venezuela’s new vice president on Sunday to replace the incumbent who was chosen to be the country’s attorney general.

“She is a woman who has been devoted to the revolutionary process for years,” said Chavez, a former coup leader who is leading a so-called “peaceful and democratic revolution” in this South American country of 24 million.

Chavez made the announcement on a weekly radio program “Hello President.”

Bastidas, a graduate of the Central University of Venezuela, has been in Washington D.C. as Venezuela’s representative to the Interamerican Development Bank during the last year.

“I want to ratify my commitment to this process … a process of many years in which we have sought to deepen Venezuelan democracy through the participation of our people,” said Bastidas shortly after her appointment.

Bastidas replaces Isaias Rodriguez, who was chosen by congress as the new attorney general last week in a process that opponents say was rigged from the beginning.

Opposition lawmakers charged that Rodriguez, one of Chavez’ closest political allies, is not likely to challenge the legality of some of the president’s political reforms. He is to be sworn in Tuesday.

“I am sure that (Isaias Rodriguez) is going to be a great attorney general who guarantees that the constitution is obeyed,” said Chavez, responding to critics. “Isaias does not have any personal or party commitments.”

Political analysts said that Bastidas was picked because of her gender and low profile.

“Chavez picked her to show that women are part of the revolutionary process,” said Fausto Maso, an independent analyst and radio host.

“He wanted someone in the vice presidency who will not overshadow him.”