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Chavez Shakes Up Cabinet Ahead of Inauguration

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has replaced his vice president and justice minister just days before he is inaugurated for a second term.

Mr. Chavez said in a television interview late Wednesday that the decision to replace Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel was not easy because he regards Rangel as a "star pitcher," as in a baseball game, and respects him like a father. In talking about the replacement of Justice Minister Jesse Chacon, Chavez alluded to a recent rise in crime and prison violence in Venezuela.

Psychiatrist and politician Jorge Rodriguez will become Venezuela's new vice president, and parliamentary deputy Pedro Carreno will be the new justice minister. Mr. Chavez will be inaugurated for a second six-year term on January 10.

Mr. Chavez has said he hopes to merge all the political parties supporting him into one party. He also wants to re-write the constitution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.