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Venezuela: United Socialist Party of Venezuela defines new strategies

By Tamara Pearson, Mérida

January 24, 2011 — Venezuelanalysis.com — On Janurary 21, 2011, over one thousand members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) met with President Chavez and decided on five key strategic lines for the next two years. The discussion included recognition of important weaknesses in the party and steps for activating the Patriotic Pole coalition.

Chavez, president of Venezuela and also of the governing PSUV, presented the document, Strategic Lines of Political Action of the PSUV for 2011-2012 to the “National Assembly of Socialists” in Vargas state, where around 1440 party leaders were present.

Chavez originally proposed the strategic lines in a draft document in December last year to a meeting of the national PSUV leadership.

PSUV legislator Jesus Farias, speaking to YVKE, said the idea of the “Socialist Assembly” was to “relaunch the project that the PSUV represents, in unity with other political organisations and social groups”. He said the “reflection and establishment of new lines of action for the PSUV is related to a need to strengthen the party as a great machine of agitation and propaganda”.

Chavez, also analysing the state of the PSUV, said, “One of the big challenges that we have is to re-unify... there are people who are dispersed, who have stopped believing ... let’s go after them ... and convince them to re-join ... that is one of the short-term aims as we head towards 2012.”

Chavez and many PSUV leaders have characterised 2012 as a “defining year” as regional elections as well as the presidential election take place that year. Chavez also told those present at the assembly that they had a “responsibility with the people to arm [them]selves with consciousness in order to able to guide the people towards socialism”.

He also proposed the creation of “patrol points” and “circles of action” or “popular struggle circles”, which would be in charge of diagnosing socioeconomic problems and seeking solutions.

The PSUV is currently organised into “patrullas" (“patrols”) of around 50 people in region-based areas, workplaces and universities. This structure was a change from the previous one of “batallones” (battalions) of around 300 PSUV registered members in any voting [area]. The idea behind this first restructure was to increase participation and ideological education, however, most patrullas are not active and do not meet.

Finally, Chavez also criticised the party for not being visible enough within people’s “reality”.

New PSUV strategy

The final document coming out of the Socialist Assembly outlined five key strategies for the party over the next two years, and also recognised the achievements of the party and the Bolivarian revolution, including the “politicisation of society and popular protagonism, social inclusion, progressive advancement in the satisfying of human needs, the increased consciousness of our people, and the great achievement of the re-conquest of national independence”.

Its list of internal party problems included “bureaucratisation, opportunism and sectarianism”.

The first of the five strategic lines outlined in the document is “From political capitalist culture to socialist militancy”. The document refers to the “capitalist culture’s” petroleum rentier model of political parties when Chavez won in 1998, where being a member of a party was basically financially investing in the party. Such involvement brought the benefit of jobs within the state or influence within it.

The Bolivarian revolution has confronted this by, according to the document, “favouring direct contact with the people”. However, the document recognises that because of “capitalist culture” the “social Bolivarian base” has gradually “moved away”. “Capitalist culture” is reproduced in the party, which for some sectors has become a method of “social promotion”. It is important the party doesn’t see its members just as “transmitters” of the main party line.

“Convert the machinery [of the PSUV] into a party-movement at the service of the struggles of the people” is the second strategic line. Here the document argues the importance of  “electoral mobilisation ... but principally of ideological formation and coherency and synchronisation of popular actions”. The document recognises that elections have been conceived of as an “end in themselves rather than a task within the struggle for radically democratising society”.

This second strategic line states that within the party, “the aspirations of the militancy to achieve internal democracy, in some senses, have been frustrated by some members with leadership or government positions”. Therefore a “revision of the methods of selection of our authorities and candidates” is necessary. Also, active members use too much energy in coordination and information meetings rather than “in the communities with the people.”

Therefore, the PSUV needs to establish a “wide range of alliances with various forms of popular organisation” the document argued. “Territorial space” is the main area where the party’s “social subjects” are, it says.

The third strategic line is to “Convert the party into a powerful means of propaganda, agitation and communication”. This points to the need to promote, “in a massive way, the strategies and positions and propaganda ... as powerful factors of mobilisation, using its elaboration, reproduction and distribution as an element for activation”. The party needs to “resume its role as agitator of the popular masses”.

“The PSUV as a platform of development and strengthening of popular power” is the fourth strategic line. This means there is a need to deepen the links between the party and “the masses”. The document proposes that the patrols organise the “popular struggle circles” as ways to “articulate the party with social movements and popular organisations” and “map conflicts and social problems generated by capitalism or the inefficiency of the state as well as projects proposed by the community”.

Popular struggle circles should use the map to develop a plan to link with existing and emergency struggles and with relevant civil servants.

The final strategic line relates to the development of the Patriotic Pole, proposed by Chavez last October, as a coalition of leftwing political parties and social movements. The Patriotic Pole was first formed in 1998 as an electoral coalition that helped secure Chávez his first presidential victory.

Within this line is the proposal of “Patriotic Bicentenary Councils” in all municipalities, which would involve members of the party, members of allied parties and “all forms of popular revolutionary organisation”.

The councils would have two main objectives: debate and approve a concrete plan of construction of socialism, and to promote the formation of the popular struggle circles.

New leadership

At the start of January Chavez announced new regional leaders of the PSUV, including Aritobulo Isturiz in the central region, which includes Caracas; Luis Reyes Reyes in the centre-west region, and Diosdado Cabello in the eastern region.

Chavez also announced the heads of commissions, including Dario Vivas in charge of organisation and mobilisation, Blanca Eekhout still in charge of communication and propaganda, and Rodrigo Cabezas in charge of the international commission. Ramon Chacín will be in charge of the disciplinary tribunal of the party, and a new commission, security and defence was created.

With regard to the separation of party and state, Chavez proposed that high-level government officials, such as mayors, governors and even the president, should not occupy party leadership positions.

“I should provide an example. We need a president of the socialist party. There are many comrades who could assume this role”, said Chavez. “This is just an idea”, he added.

The PSUV was formed in 2007 following a call by Chavez for all left-wing parties, or parties that supported him, to dissolve themselves and unite into one socialist party. Most of the more than 20 political parties that backed Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections agreed to join together to form the PSUV. Some, however, including the Communist Party of Venezuela, did not join. The PSUV currently has around 7 million formally registered members.

[This article first appeared at Venezuelanalysis.com. Tamara Peason is an Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network activist resident in Venezuela.]

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