Venezuela’s parallel administration headed by opposition leader Juan Guaido has lost its most prominent figure, former planning minister and Harvard professor Ricardo Hausmann.
Hausmann, who recently hinted at repudiating some of Venezuela’s debt, had been serving as Guaido’s representative at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a Washington-based multilateral agency that is seen as a fundamental vehicle for the country’s future reconstruction.
Hausmann has been replaced by little-known Alejandro Plaz.
Plaz, an electrical engineer, was named presidential commissioner for economic development as part of an exile administration appointed by Guaido on 28 August.
Hausmann served in the cabinet of former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez in the early 1990s. It is not clear if he resigned as IDB envoy or was pushed out of the Guaido team. He could not be reached for comment.
In a 20 September column for Project Syndicate, Hausmann questions the blanket sanctity of contracts, asserting that “profane” agreements should be treated by courts as “exhibit A of a crime.” The article was seen as provocative ahead of the end-October deadline for payment of more than $900mn in principal and interest on a bond issued by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PdV.
The opposition already paid $72mn in interest on the PdV 2020 bond in May, and is widely expected to try to refinance the $842mn principal payment with institutional investors before the October deadline.
The collateral on the bond is Citgo, PdV’s US refining subsidiary and the Opec country’s most valuable remaining asset.
Guaido is recognized by the US and dozens of other Western countries as Venezuela’s interim president, to the detriment of President Nicolas Maduro, who is backed by Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba, among other nations. Maduro visited Moscow this week.
Guaido declared his interim presidency in January 2019, but despite escalating US financial and oil sanctions, the Maduro government has not fallen.