Maduro axes electricity minister amid ongoing Venezuela blackouts

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro named a new electricity minister on Thursday, replacing one he appointed just two months ago amid persistent prolonged power blackouts.

Freddy Brito "will continue the work of full recovery of the National electric system," as minister and president of the state owned Corpolec, the president said on Twitter.

Brito, an electrical engineer, has held the Science and Technology portfolio in Maduro's government up to now.

"We will continue to combine all our knowledge to resolve the problems affecting our people," said Brito after his appointment.

Brito replaces Igor Gavidia whom Maduro appointed only on April 1, tasked with the getting the country back on its feet after a series of crippling blackouts.

The first, on March 7, plunged most of Venezuela into darkness for five days.

Sporadic blackouts continue to affect the country, causing major disruption to food and water supplies, transport and hospitals, which have reported deaths due to the power cuts.

Maduro blames the blackouts on sabotage by the United States and the Venezuelan opposition, though experts say poor maintenance is the cause.

The oil-producing state of Zulia and Barinas in the west continue to be affected by power rationing which was introduced at the end of March.