UPDATE 2-Venezuela vice president, defense min resigns

* Chavez named Carrizalez as vice president in 2008

* Environment minister also quits for personal reasons
(Recasts, adds details, background)

CARACAS, Jan 25 (BestGrowthStock) – Venezuela’s Vice President
Ramon Carrizalez, who was also defense minister, resigned on
Monday citing personal reasons, adding to the political
problems facing leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez is facing growing discontent over shortages of
electricity and water and sharply devalued the currency this
month. He is preparing for elections in September that could
reduce his tight grip of the OPEC nation’s parliament.

Chavez named the soft-spoken Carrizalez to the number two
job in 2008, and in 2009 appointed him him to simultaneously
serve as defense minister.

State-backed news network Telesur reported that Carrizalez’
wife, Environment Minister Yuviri Ortega, also resigned.
Carrizalez denied the resignations had to do with differences
with the government, Telesur reported.

A government official confirmed the information but did not
provide details.

Carrizalez, a close Chavez confidant who is a former army
officer like the president, was seen as one of the government’s
more capable administrators.

This month Chavez fired a recently named electricity
minister for botching a Caracas electricity rationing scheme.

He has also changed his finance minister, Ali Rodriguez,
who he named new electricity minister this month. Left-wing
academic Jorge Giordani took over the finance ministry.

Carrizalez previously served as infrastructure minister and
housing minister. He took on some of the nation’s thorniest
problems including its acute housing deficit and the 2006
collapse of a crucial bridge linking Caracas to the airport and
its main port.

Chavez named Carrizalez vice president just after his
first-ever ballot box defeat in a constitutional overhaul
referendum in 2007, replacing the combative Jorge Rodriguez.

Investing Research

(Reporting by Caracas Newsroom; Writing by Brian Ellsworth;
Editing by David Storey)

UPDATE 2-Venezuela vice president, defense min resigns