Venezuela Confirms Plan to Purge State Workers Who Signed Recall

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will remove state employees appointed to their positions by the government who signed a petition to recall President Nicolas Maduro as the opposition seeks to remove him amid an economic crisis.

In the first confirmation by a cabinet member, Information Minister Luis Jose Marcano said the government is free to name as well as remove high-level bureaucrats it has appointed.

“Whoever has a position that is freely appointed and removable, those referred to yesterday by the PSUV on President Maduro’s instructions, evidently cannot be allowed to attack the Bolivarian revolution,” Marcano said in an interview on the Globovision network, referring to the ruling party. “A lot of these people end up sabotaging the revolution.”

Jorge Rodriguez, a national leader of the ruling PSUV and mayor of Caracas’s Libertador municipality, on Monday warned that high-ranking appointees in five ministries had 48 hours before being re-assigned to a new position after lawmaker Diosdado Cabello first made the threat earlier this month.

The case brings back memories of the so-called Tascon List, which was used by the government under then President Hugo Chavez to fire state workers and bar others from everything from jobs to loans for having signed a petition for a recall referendum in 2004 that Chavez eventually survived.

Public employees not appointed to their positions will be ratified and are not subject to this policy, Marcano said.

Maduro has not commented publicly on the matter. The opposition demanded the Public Prosecutor and Human Rights Ombudsman investigate “these violations to the labor law,” opposition leader Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba said on the opposition coalition’s Twitter account.