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Venezuela's Chavez Names New Ministers in Major Cabinet Reshuffle

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has replaced his vice president and finance minister as part of a major Cabinet reshuffle.

Government spokesman Jesse Chacon announced the changes at a news conference Friday. He said the housing minister, Ramon Carrizales, will replace Vice President Jorge Rodriguez.

The spokesman also said Mr. Chavez named Rafael Isea to head the finance ministry in place of Rodrigo Cabezas. Isea is currently deputy finance minister.

The reshuffle involves about 12 Cabinet posts and comes one month after Venezuelans rejected constitutional reforms that would have greatly expanded the president's power. It was the first electoral defeat for Mr. Chavez in nine years.

The reforms would have allowed Mr. Chavez, who has vowed to transform Venezuela into a socialist state, to seek re-election indefinitely.

The proposals also would have abolished the Central Bank's independence, limited individual rights under states of emergency and created new forms of community-owned property.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Bloomberg and Reuters.