September 20, 2010 / 1:16 AM / 9 years ago

Cuba fires minister in charge of oil and nickel

(Refiles to fix typo in 3rd paragraph)

HAVANA, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Cuba fired Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia, in charge of the oil and nickel industries, on Sunday and said the first vice minister would stand in until a replacement was named.

A government communique said Garcia was let go due to “her deficiencies manifested, especially in poor control of resources destined for investment and the productive process.”

First Vice Minister Thomas Benitez was named as a temporary replacement “until a new minister can be appointed,” the statement said.

The ministry is also in charge of the cement industry and domestic pharmaceutical industry.

The Cuban oil industry is preparing to drill with foreign partners in the Gulf of Mexico next year and in partnership with Venezuela is developing its refining and other oil related infrastructure.

Unrefined nickel is Cuba’s most important export at around 70,000 tonnes per year and a joint venture with Venezuela plans to add 60,000 tonnes of ferronickel by 2013.

Garcia was the last economic minister inherited by President Raul Castro in 2008 when he replaced ailing brother Fidel Castro.

Raul Castro replaced the other ministers in 2009.

Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Stacey Joyce

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