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Venezuela government sacks UN representative, sources say

Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations Rafael Ramirez Carreno speaks to the media during a Security Council Arria formula meeting on the situation in Venezuela, at the UN headquarters in New York on November 13, 2017. (AFP photo)

Sources in Venezuela have indicated that Rafael Ramirez, the country’s representative to the United Nations in New York, has been removed from his job.

Four sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday that Ramirez, once known as Venezuela’s oil czar and a former powerful politician, was dismissed by the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“He was fired last night,” said a source who asked to remain anonymous. A Separate source in Venezuela’s office at UN headquarters said Ramirez had yet to be notified of his removal and was normally working at the UN on Wednesday.

Two other sources said Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza travelled to New York this week, with one of them saying Ramirez had tried to fight back his way to office but was simply unable.

A key ally of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Ramirez served as the oil czar of the country for a decade starting in 2004. He was the oil minister and president of state oil company PDVSA.

However, the leftist politician had begun to fall from grace under Maduro’s leadership when he was dismissed from his portfolio in the Cabinet and sent to New York to head the UN mission.

Ramirez and Maduro have seen their differences grow, especially in recent times, and after the former oil czar published a series of online opinion pieces in which he criticized the Venezuelan oil company for allowing a reduction in the production of crude. Ramirez had also censured Maduro’s government for not doing enough to compensate for the economic woes that have gripped the country over the past years.

Ramirez’ dismissal also comes against the backdrop of rumors that he was planning to run for presidency in next year’s election, something that could further boost rivalries among members of the ruling Socialist Party.

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