CARACAS, Venezuela -- The outgoing foreign minister, whose party pulled out of President Carlos Andres Perez's coalition government, said Saturday the naming of an army officer to the post would not end the nation's deep political crisis.
Humberto Calderon Berti, who resigned when his Copei social Christian party broke with Perez on Thursday, said the naming of Defense Minister Gen. Fernando Ochoa Antich would strengthen the government but not much.
'I would say that the presence of Ochoa helps shore things up, but not enough, just like I said that our (party's presence in the government) helped strengthen it but not enough,' he told a news conference.
'I believe that the participation of the armed forces in the solution to the crisis is important, as is the participation of honest clergy, honest businessmen and honest leaders,' he said.
Perez was forced to cancel his trip to the U.N. Earth Summit in Brazil Friday because of the latest political crisis caused by Copei's break with the president, who belongs to the ruling social democratic National Action party.
Calderon, an oil expert and Copei leader, entered Perez's cabinet after the failed Feb. 4 military coup in order to bolster the president's flagging support in the face of economic austerity and widespread discontent with the government.
Copei pulled its two ministers out of the Perez cabinet Thursday after the Senate gave the president permission to travel to the Rio de Janeiro summit. Copei opposed the trip because of political instability caused by the nation's deepest crisis in 34 years of democracy, including recent rioting and looting.
Many opposition leaders have called for Perez to resign.
Calderon said, however, that it was unfair to blame all of the South American nation's problems on Perez, who polls show is highly unpopular.
The deep social and political problems in the nation are the result of many factors, he said, and there is plenty of blame to go around.