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Venezuela's revolutionary youth: `Socialist youth will be guarantors of the deepening of the revolution'

[Below is the political declaration of the founding congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Youth, JPSUV, held on September 11-13, 2008. Translated by Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke. The original in Spanish can be downloaded at http://juventud.psuv.org.ve/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/declaracion-de-cachamay.doc]


The Cachamay Declaration -- Socialist youth will be the guarantors of the deepening of the revolution.

Following a wide reaching process within the grassroots of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, young militants have completed the process of formation of the JPSUV as an organisational structure that will promote the consolidation of the ties between the social movements and in doing so convert ourselves into the vanguard of defence of the Bolivarian revolution and the fundamental space for the transformation of the values and practices of social and political life, allowing us to lead the way in the construction of the new man, of the new women, that Socialism of the 21st Century requires.

The process of founding the JPSUV occurs at a time when the Bolivarian Revolution and the processes of transformation that have erupted in Latin America and the world demand the freshness, force and creativity of youth to resist the attacks by imperialism which, condemned to disappear, does not think twice in resorting to the most deadliest methods in order to try and regain the ground it has lost on the global scene.

In this moment, our Bolivarian Revolution requires young people to assume a protagonistic role in the ethical and moral strengthening of society so as to defeat the vices of consumerism, individualism, egoism and sectarianism with which they have violated our creativity, combativity and capacity for transformation.

To make reality the definition of revolution expressed by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz in a speech given on the occasion of International Workers' Day in 2000: "Revolution means to have a sense of history; it is changing everything that must be changed; it is achieving emancipation by ourselves and through our own efforts; it is defending the values in which we believe in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is a profound conviction that there is no power in the world that can crush the power of truth and ideas. It is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism which requires that our youth make an effort towards the unleashing, creativity and unity of political and social action."

In the national sphere, the threats that loom over our revolutionary process and especially over our fundamental leader, Commandante Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, require that we directly involve ourselves in every site of struggle, in the communities, universities, workplace, sport, cultural etc. in order to disseminate the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution and activate a permanent mobilisation to confront, on any terrain necessary, all attempts to kidnap our dreams of a homeland. We warn the anti-democratic sectors that plan to carry out an assassination that we are prepared to take up the guns of the people and defend through armed struggle our maximum leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, including with the last breath of our lives if necessary.

The international conjuncture also requires of us a profound demonstration of our capacity to love and create a socialist youth. The application in Bolivia of the same coup-plotting recipe that we lived through in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 requires us to carry out firm demonstrations of militant solidarity with our brother people of Bolivia. We must make it clear to imperialism that if it attacks Bolivia, we will react in the same way as the Liberator Simon Bolivar did when he fought to kick out the Spanish empire and found this sister republic. We will not hesitate in crossing the Andes to defend the work of the Father of the Homeland.

The consequences of the predatory and consumerist way of life that capitalism has imposed on us are being paid by our brother peoples in the Caribbean. The devastation of the hurricanes that recently destroyed a great part of the territories of Cuba and Haiti are the results of climate change generated by the indiscriminate use of our natural resources by the industrialised countries, in the face of which, we have to act with effectiveness,  in order to avoid the risk that the planet will not exist for our future generations.

We commit ourselves to promoting a way of life in harmony with the environment, that promotes the integral recuperation of the habitat of our territory and strengthens solidarity as a revolutionary value that allows us to carry out, with the force and continuity that it requires, the humanitarian labour and material support necessary to solve the difficulties generated as a direct effect of climate change.

In the same way, we commit ourselves to promoting labour as a force for the transformation of reality and the consciousness of our people. We will promote voluntary work and recognition of the contribution of all sectors to the productivity of the country in order to convert work into a collective effort, and not into a battle site where individualism and consumerism converts us into slaves of capitalism.

In the same way, we commit ourselves to tirelessly fight for the construction of a new socialist state model through the strengthening of Popular Power. Only in this way can we achieve a profound change in the structures, which have to be re-imagined with an innovative vision that allows us to overcome the capitalist model and to install a society of equals where the fundamental necessities of freedom and solidarity of citizens are met without any discrimination.

It is up to us to drive forward the process of strengthening and permanently renovating the ideological bases of the Bolivarian Revolution. All our efforts in our study, our creativity and the action of young people is placed at the service of the strategic guidelines defined by Commandante Chavez in regards to Socialism of the 21st Century in order to promote a grand national debate that allows us to consolidate the Bolivarian socialist proposal and orientates our actions in the consolidation of our definitive independence and the defeat of imperialism. This will allow us to open the path to a just society, to the better and possible world that our fathers and mothers fought for: A REVOLUTIONARY, BOLIVARIAN AND SOCIALIST WORLD.

HOMELAND, SOCIALISM OR DEATH, WE WILL WIN!

* * *

Revolutionary youth fighting for the future

By Fred Fuentes

September 20, 2008 -- Caracas -- Amid growing tensions between the United States and Latin America, nearly 1200 young people — representing thousands more — met in the Venezuelan city of Puerto Ordaz on September 11-13 to found the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Youth (JPSUV).

The backdrop to the congress was the increased aggression of US imperialism against the peoples and governments of South America. Less than 24 hours before convening the JPSUV’s founding congress, evidence of a planned coup and assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was revealed. At the same time, in Bolivia the conflict between the Indigenous government of Evo Morales and the right-wing opposition, backed by the US government, threatened to lead to civil war.

The JPSUV congress was the result of several months of preparation, where members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) under the age of 28 began to organise themselves into youth teams of 10 people each and build towards creating a socialist youth organisation.

After weeks of discussion, each youth team elected a spokesperson. Afterwards, the spokespeople came together in a meeting of 10 spokespeople from their local area to elect a delegate to the founding congress.

Previous attempts to organise young people have included the Federation of Bolivarian Students and the Frente Francisco de Miranda, however the JPSUV is the first of its kind to be constructed from the grassroots.

Sitting around 47 tables discussing the program, politics and statutes of the new organisation, the congress erupted into cheers and chants as they heard Chavez over the television announcing the dignified decision to expel the US ambassador from Venezuela. “Go to hell, Yankee shit”, proclaimed Chavez, sending the ambassador packing due to his role in destablising the Venezuelan government, and in solidarity with the decision by Bolivian President Evo Morales to expel the US ambassador to Bolivia only days before.

These delegates made up the majority of 2000 people who gathered to hear Chavez close the congress.

Standing together with the rest of the international delegates on the stage, we joined in with the exuberant crowd as the audience continuously broke out in anti-imperialist chants, and danced as they waited for the leader of the revolution.

“If the conflict begins, we want guns!”, they exclaimed, to which Chavez responded, “The conflict has already begun!” adding that “a conflict has begun across the continent and the world”.

Welcoming the creation of the JPSUV as a powerful instrument to help organise young people and push forward the revolution, Chavez reminded those present that the doors were also open for young people to join the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the Bolivarian Popular Militias in order to defend the revolution, which today is directly in the firing line of US imperialism.

He announced that, as part of the restructuring of the armed forces, he would make half-time military service available to young people, so they could spend half the week training in the barracks and the other half studying or doing social work.

While the exact number of youth involved throughout the entire process is hard to calculate, and undoubtably not everything went to plan, the congress left no doubt that we were in the presence of a truly mass organisation of socialist youth committed to the defence of the revolution.

The formation of the JPSUV started a process of gathering dispersed sectors, organisations and, above all, individuals previously unorganised, into a powerful tool for the revolution.

Being able to participate as one of more than 20 official international delegates from 16 countries in Latin America, Europe and Oceania, representing the socialist youth organisation, Resistance, I could see — in the discussions and debates over issues such as food sovereignty, defence of the nation and the statutes of the organisation — that here was a range of young people from different backgrounds, experiences and political levels, all willing to actively participate and have their voices heard.

For example, some of the originally proposed statutes, seen by many of the delegates as top-down, were reformed, allowing for more active participation at all levels of the JPSUV. The congress also approved a declaration of principles and various documents rejecting the planned coup against Chavez and in solidarity with the Bolivian government.

The election of the national leadership, to be made up of 30 people — 27 elected by the grassroots and three elected by Indigenous members of the PSUV — was deferred to a later date.

Commenting on the congress, Hector Rodriguez, who is part of the promoters commission for the JPSUV and recently designated secretary of the presidency, said this event was “historic”, as never before had Venezuela had a political youth movement of this size.

Rodriguez said: “As young people we have been told that we are the future, but this is a lie they have been telling us. If we look at the world today, we do not have a future in front of us. Instead, what is necessary is for young people to organise themselves and fight to make that future we all dream of a reality.”

“That is why we are here to give our all for the revolution, our joy, our hope, our light and even our lives if necessary, for a better homeland, for a dignified homeland, for a revolutionary homeland”, he said.

Following the successful congress, a meeting of international delegates together with JPSUV leaders, including Rodriguez, was held in Miraflores Palace. The meeting agreed to put more effort into strengthening the Student Network for the Unity of Our America, REUNA, as well as working towards a congress of Latin American left youth organisations, with observers from the rest of the world, in the first quarter of next year, to propose an alliance of these organisations.

[Fred Fuentes is a member of the socialist youth organisation Resistance, visit http://www.resistance.org.au. This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #768, September 24, 2008.]

Comments

The founding of the PSUV

The founding of the PSUV Youth sure was a giant step forward and I think that all of us hope that it can play an important role in the battles to come.

However, I must admit that this article is a bit erroneous. I was present in the founding congress in Puerto Ordáz too and I want to make a brief comment.

This article does not mention any of the widespread criticisms and discontent that one could hear from wide sections of the rank and file delegates. It doesn't even mention the fact that the organizers canceled the plenary debate without giving any reason. It also omits the fact that the proposal for statutes (which originally had a VERY bureaucratic content) were handed out to the delegates in the congress itself, thus avoiding any discussion of them in the youth battalions.

I could add lots of other points, but I think that these are suffice to point out the uncritical character of the article.

The PSUV Youth is a step forward but we must ensure that it has a democratic structure and a real Socialist policy.

A much more critical (and IMO truthful) account can be found here:
http://www.marxist.com/venezuela-psuv-youth-congress.htm

Reply on founding congress of PSUV

Patrick Larsen wrote:
"A much more critical (and IMO truthful) account can be found here..."

My reply:
Wow! What a surprise! Patrick finds his own account of the congress to be more truthful than mine. Perhaps readers will be more startled to also find out that IMHO my article is more truthful than his! But I do not want to go, point by point, in correcting the half truths in his article, and instead focus on his comments.

Patrick wrote:
"This article does not mention any of the widespread criticisms and discontent that one could hear from wide sections of the rank and file delegates."

My response:
Read the article. For example it says "some of the originally proposed statutes, SEEN BY MANY OF THE DELEGATES AS TOP-DOWN, were reformed, allowing for more active participation at all levels of the JPSUV." Im not sure how anyone could interpret this sentence as anything but a mention of the "widespread criticisms and discontent", despite the fact that we may disagree on how widespread this criticism was.

Patrick goes on to write:
"It doesn't even mention the fact that the organizers canceled the plenary debate without giving any reason. It also omits the fact that the proposal for statutes (which originally had a VERY bureaucratic content) were handed out to the delegates in the congress itself, thus avoiding any discussion of them in the youth battalions."

My response:
Yes I do not mention these things, but then I also did not mention the CMR stall at the congress and how much money you all made from sales.

The point of my article was not a blow by blow account of the congress, rather to focus on what i think was the fundamental issue: the formation of the JPSUV is an important step forward in cohering Venezuelan youth into a powerful political instrument at the service of the revolution. For me the other issues, as important as they may or may not be, are secondary.

It is true the statutes were not circulated prior to the congress. Yet neither were they for the PSUV congress. This is nothing new. Of course it would have been better if they had of being, but unlike tiny microscopic groups who have years and years to discuss programs and statutes, the PSUV and JPSUV are being forged in the heat of the struggle. where times are not set according to some foreseen calendar of events but by the pace of events that unfold.

I hope the next congress (PSUV and JPSUV) do circulate documents and counter documents to stimulate debate across the battalions, and create spaces for a thorough, wide ranging discussion amongst the ranks.

My question though is: was anyone stopped from circulating their proposed statutes to the battalions? Was it possible for existing currents or individuals to produce such documents for discussion (taking into consideration the ability to physical distribute such a proposal across all the ranks of the organisation)? I would say it was, but no one did.

In reality, the REAL alternative to the statutes not being circulated prior was that the unelected committee that wrote up the document would have circulated it, with the resources they have at hand to ensure it go to all battalions, while undoubtably denying the possibility of counter documents to be circulated in the same way. Im not sure this is inherently better.

Patrick wrote:
"I could add lots of other points, but I think that these are suffice to point out the uncritical character of the article."

Im sure you could, but I would just like to point out one thing that I think underlines the total hypocrisy of your position. You decry the totally undemocratic nature of the congress (or at least my unwillingness to denounce everything that went wrong in the congress). But in your article you write:

"During the course of these events, the CMR (Revolutionary Marxist Current, Venezuelan section of the IMT) made an outstanding intervention in the congress and connected brilliantly with the mood of the majority of delegates. We were the only clearly defined political tendency that intervened with the selling of papers, leafleting and selling Marxist books and material. Although there were other left-wing groups present, none of them had a clear profile and many of them were international guests who did not make any real political intervention in the congress."

Leaving aside the overblown nonsense about "outstanding intervention" and that you were the only clearly defined tendency (though it is true that the CMR were the only ones selling books), I want to highlight the fact that, as you yourself point out, international reps from the IMT intervened in the congress. As I was there, I can say that this meant active participation in the work tables composed of elected delegates. You criticise the other delegates for not doing the same and instead participating as we were asked to by the organisers of the congress (observing and participating in part of the congress, discussing amongst others proposals to present to the JPSUV to further international collaboration, draft a declaration in solidarity with Venezuela's decision to expel the US ambassador, etc, none of which the IMT comrades did)

So you, as an unelected foreigners, where allowed to intervene in the discussion of a founding congress of an organisation (with positions hostile to the unofficial leadership of the in-formation organisation) and you talk about the undemocratic nature of the congress. I suppose that at the next IMT congress anyone will now be able to participate and active intervene in the congress without being politely asked to leave? I doubt that.

What other organisation in the world would let unelected foreigners intervene in their founding congress (including incorporating their proposals into the discussion and resolutions)? Why is their no denunciation of this undemocratic behaviour in your article? I suppose anything is ok is you are the real Marxists fighting the good fight.....

Patrick wrote:
"The PSUV Youth is a step forward but we must ensure that it has a democratic structure and a real Socialist policy"

Fine, but if by democratic structure you mean allowing unelected delegates to participate, then I dont agree with your idea of democracy. And if real socialist policy is the dogmatic ritualistic genuflection that the IMT pass for Marxism, then once again we will just have to agree to disagree.

The real issues at stake in the PSUV Youth Congress

Federico´s reply is of a very peculiar character. It is the kind of reply that serves to sidestep from all the real issues at stake and focus on the "unelected foreigners of the IMT".

This is most clearly expressed when he apologizes for not mentioning some of the points that I stressed:

"Yes I do not mention these things, but then I also did not mention the CMR stall at the congress and how much money you all made from sales."

First let me say, that I did not make this comment to have some kind of rivaling petit-group fight. Actually I have been reading several of Federico´s articles, interviews and reports in Venezuelanalysis and in "Green Weekly" and most of them seemed very informative and true in the sense that they portrayed the struggles taking place among the rank and file workers and students in Venezuela. That was why I was rather astonished to see his article - which seemed and still seems to me completely uncritical. I do not demand that he reports on the CMR/IMT intervention, but I did expect him to do a more sober and critical report than the one he did.

Let us remember that a revolution is a very serious question. We deal with one of these rare moments where the exploited have the chance to overthrow the exploiters. But if this fails, the ruling class will take revenge, as it did in Chile with the coup´d´etat of 1973 or as in Nicaragua with the war of the contras in the 1980. Thus millions of peoples lives depend on the outcome of the revolution. Therefore we cannot play any romantic game. We must say what is. A true friend would never hestitate to give his best friend a firm advice, if he or her is in trouble. And the Bolivarian revolution IS at the crossroads. It cannot continue as it did before with elections and reforms little by little. That was shown clearly in the referendum defeat in December 2007.

Having this in mind, let´s get back to Federico´s article. He come´s up with several excuses to cover up for the un-democratic proceedings that left many a delegate frustrated, to say the least.

Thus he writes:
"It is true the statutes were not circulated prior to the congress. Yet neither were they for the PSUV congress. This is nothing new. Of course it would have been better if they had of being, but unlike tiny microscopic groups who have years and years to discuss programs and statutes, the PSUV and JPSUV are being forged in the heat of the struggle. where times are not set according to some foreseen calendar of events but by the pace of events that unfold."

This is perhaps the worst argument he could ever pick. Again he tries to make a caricature of "tiny microscopic groups" (please tell me clearly who you are reffering to?).

But besides that he informs us that "the PSUV and JPSUV are being forged in the heat of the struggle. where times are not set according to some foreseen calendar of events but by the pace of events that unfold."

This is really no excuse. The (non-elected) leadership of the J-PSUV planned the congress from July! They knew the dates and they could easily have circulated the documents in advance. The question is: Why didn´t they do it? Why did they choose to keep their proposals for themselves until the congress started?

In the same manner we could ask; Why did the organizers cancel the planned plenary debate? Why was no free discussion allowed? Why didn´t they allow ANY speaker from the rank and file delegates nor from the workshops?

These are the real questions that Federico should answer instead of sidestepping the issue with his fuss about "unelected foreigners".

On a sidenote, I will comment briefly on Federico´s "un-elected foreigners". First of all, the CMR had a number of VENEZUELAN delegates elected in the PSUV Youth Battalions from four different regions of Venezuela. We also had comrades who were promoters of the PSUV Youth in their regions (i.e. they helped to build the first branches, etc). Also we had in March this year a comrade , Freddy Acevedo, who was a delegate to the PSUV founding congress AND on the list of the 69 candidates for the PSUV national leadership (where he polled a fairly good result, some 9,000 votes and getting the 45 rank, though not making it among the 30 elected).

Secondly, yes it is true that we had international comrades from the IMT and yes we intervened. How? We took part in the workshops and many delegates asked our point of view there. Actually the whole of the workshops usually wanted to know what we thought. So we put forward our position. Is that a criminal act of infiltration? I don´t think so and neither did the vast majority of the delegates.

In my article I did not critisize the workshops. I sasid that it was the only chance of the rank and file to express itself and "they grabbed it with both hands". This is undoubtedly true. But it does not alter the fact, that workshops without a plenary debate and without a real say on the matters involved is a bad recipe for building a democratic organization.

another reply on JPSUV founding congress

Lets do this paragraph by paragraph

Patrick wrote:
Federico´s reply is of a very peculiar character. It is the kind of reply that serves to sidestep from all the real issues at stake and focus on the "unelected foreigners of the IMT".

My response:
I dont think i focused on "unelected foreigners of the IMT" nor did i side step the key issues (just as i didnt in the original article), but i suppose each reader can decide this for themselves.

Patrick wrote:
This is most clearly expressed when he apologizes for not mentioning some of the points that I stressed:

"Yes I do not mention these things, but then I also did not mention the CMR stall at the congress and how much money you all made from sales."

My response:
This is not an apology for not mentioning certain points. What i was trying to emphasis is what I wrote in the very next paragraph: "The point of my article was not a blow by blow account of the congress, rather to focus on what i think was the fundamental issue: the formation of the JPSUV is an important step forward in cohering Venezuelan youth into a powerful political instrument at the service of the revolution. For me the other issues, as important as they may or may not be, are secondary."

Patrick wrote:
First let me say, that I did not make this comment to have some kind of rivaling petit-group fight. Actually I have been reading several of Federico´s articles, interviews and reports in Venezuelanalysis and in "Green Weekly" and most of them seemed very informative and true in the sense that they portrayed the struggles taking place among the rank and file workers and students in Venezuela. That was why I was rather astonished to see his article - which seemed and still seems to me completely uncritical. I do not demand that he reports on the CMR/IMT intervention, but I did expect him to do a more sober and critical report than the one he did.

My response:
Thank you for the comment, however i feel the article i wrote continues with the positions i have expressed in previous articles and is not a break from this.

Patrick wrote:
Let us remember that a revolution is a very serious question. We deal with one of these rare moments where the exploited have the chance to overthrow the exploiters. But if this fails, the ruling class will take revenge, as it did in Chile with the coup´d´etat of 1973 or as in Nicaragua with the war of the contras in the 1980. Thus millions of peoples lives depend on the outcome of the revolution. Therefore we cannot play any romantic game. We must say what is. A true friend would never hestitate to give his best friend a firm advice, if he or her is in trouble. And the Bolivarian revolution IS at the crossroads. It cannot continue as it did before with elections and reforms little by little. That was shown clearly in the referendum defeat in December 2007.

My response:
Putting aside possible differences we may have on some of this or that historic question or on the way forward for the revolution, i certainly agree on the importance of the outcome of the Venezuelan revolution. And I agree that any useful advice should be given. But i would add two things. This advice should be given with a bit of humbleness: nor i, and i would guess you, have actually led a revolution (successful or otherwise) so whatever advice we could give should start from the point that we have more to learn from Venezuelan revolutionaries than what we can "teach" them. The second point is the article was clearly written for an Australian (or foreign audience) and not to give advice to Venezuelan revolutionaries (for starters it is in english, so most would not be able to read either your or my advice). So it was not aimed at given advice to Venezuelans but rather on the issue of why those outside of Venezuela should be excited by this development and build solidarity with it.

Patrick wrote:
Having this in mind, let´s get back to Federico´s article. He come´s up with several excuses to cover up for the un-democratic proceedings that left many a delegate frustrated, to say the least.

My response:
let's see the evidence provided to back up the accusation of covering up undemocratic proceedings

Patrick wrote:
Thus he writes:
"It is true the statutes were not circulated prior to the congress. Yet neither were they for the PSUV congress. This is nothing new. Of course it would have been better if they had of being, but unlike tiny microscopic groups who have years and years to discuss programs and statutes, the PSUV and JPSUV are being forged in the heat of the struggle. where times are not set according to some foreseen calendar of events but by the pace of events that unfold."

This is perhaps the worst argument he could ever pick. Again he tries to make a caricature of "tiny microscopic groups" (please tell me clearly who you are reffering to?).

My response:
I was referring to tiny microscope groups, which does not include the JPSUV.

Patrick wrote:
But besides that he informs us that "the PSUV and JPSUV are being forged in the heat of the struggle. where times are not set according to some foreseen calendar of events but by the pace of events that unfold."

This is really no excuse. The (non-elected) leadership of the J-PSUV planned the congress from July! They knew the dates and they could easily have circulated the documents in advance. The question is: Why didn´t they do it? Why did they choose to keep their proposals for themselves until the congress started?

My response:
But the PSUV was announced in December 2006, its congress held in January 2008 and not documents were circulated prior regarding statutes and program, at least not on a serious level (they were available on the web). What I was trying to point out is that this is nothing new. Yes they could have circulated the documents in advance, but my question is when were the documents actually written up? Unless you know something i dont, they were only finished shortly before the congress.

But let's take say that they had from July, and they could have written them in August and circulated them for a month. Do you still think the process would have been more democratic if ONLY the official documents were circulated with no possibility of alternate documents being circulated (which undoubtably would have been the case)?

And I would add another question: why didnt the comrades from the CMR circulate their document? Where they banned from doing so? As far as i know they weren't. So why didn't they? Aren't they equal as undemocratic as the unofficial leadership of the JPSUV. Or did they have nothing to say on these question? Why did the CMR keep their proposals to themselves until the congress?

Patrick wrote:
In the same manner we could ask; Why did the organizers cancel the planned plenary debate? Why was no free discussion allowed? Why didn´t they allow ANY speaker from the rank and file delegates nor from the workshops?

My response:
Well you have to ask them these questions, i cant answer them although i could take a guess. But was is true is that there was an important advance between this congress and that of the PSUV. In the PSUV congress, the reps from each table that came together to discuss the outcome of discussion and formulate the final documents had to fight for this right. This time it was take as a given that this would occur. I see this as an advance, although there is still some way to go.

Patrick wrote:
These are the real questions that Federico should answer instead of sidestepping the issue with his fuss about "unelected foreigners".

My response:
Why are these the real questions to be answer and why am i the person to do so? If you think these are the fundamental questions to ask, i think you should take a step back and think about the magnitude of the issue we are dealing with. If you think i have to answer for these "crimes" then you have way too much respect for me and my "influence" on these issues.

Patrick wrote:
On a sidenote, I will comment briefly on Federico´s "un-elected foreigners". First of all, the CMR had a number of VENEZUELAN delegates elected in the PSUV Youth Battalions from four different regions of Venezuela. We also had comrades who were promoters of the PSUV Youth in their regions (i.e. they helped to build the first branches, etc). Also we had in March this year a comrade , Freddy Acevedo, who was a delegate to the PSUV founding congress AND on the list of the 69 candidates for the PSUV national leadership (where he polled a fairly good result, some 9,000 votes and getting the 45 rank, though not making it among the 30 elected).

My response:
I know this. i was there, at both the JPSUV and PSUV congress. So what? I never said it was only foreigners intervening.

Patrick wrote:
Secondly, yes it is true that we had international comrades from the IMT and yes we intervened. How? We took part in the workshops and many delegates asked our point of view there. Actually the whole of the workshops usually wanted to know what we thought. So we put forward our position. Is that a criminal act of infiltration? I don´t think so and neither did the vast majority of the delegates.

My response:
Ok, so we agree that you and others, as unelected foreign delegates, intervened in the discussion. Given this congress was so undemocratic, i imagine i will have this same right at the next IMT congress. I imagine the vast majority of delegates to the congress will also accept my right to so there. My email is fred.fuentes@gmail.com I look forward to receiving this invitation with full rights like another other delegate at the IMT congress, anything short of this would be a total violation of any democratic norms i imagine. Or is that a criminal act of infiltration? I would hate to see the IMT congress be less democratic than that of the JPSUV.

I would just add that it was made clear to the IMT comrades by a number of organisers that this behaviour was unacceptable (something i agree with and i think any organisation, including the IMT, would ask of foreign delegates). They refused to do so and were NEVER asked to leave or prohibited from doing what they did. Hardly the demonstration of a undemocratic reformist bureacracy crushing grassroots democracy.

Patrick wrote:
In my article I did not critisize the workshops. I sasid that it was the only chance of the rank and file to express itself and "they grabbed it with both hands". This is undoubtedly true. But it does not alter the fact, that workshops without a plenary debate and without a real say on the matters involved is a bad recipe for building a democratic organization.

My response:
They were the only chance for the rank and file AND UNELECTED IMT FOREIGNERS intervene, that is true. Yes the congress could have been more democratic, just like that of the PSUV could have been, i just dont elevate this issue above the fundamental issue at stake. Unlike your party or mine, these organisations represent real attempts by Venezuelan people and youth to construct instruments to wield in their battle for power. No such process will ever be easy, nor will they parallel the organisation of our congress. Let's encourage them to increase democracy, but lets also have some realism and understand of what is occurring - something which requires us to take off our sectarian blinkers that already knows the answers and solutions before we even start to deal with the question and problem.

Again on the JPSUV, democracy, etc

Hi Fred (and others reading this),

Thanks for your reply. I think that it can be resumed to some key points of disagreement;

1) When I ask you:
"Why did the organizers cancel the planned plenary debate? Why was no free discussion allowed? Why didn´t they allow ANY speaker from the rank and file delegates nor from the workshops?"

You state, in a rather rhetorical manner, that you are not the one to answer this and that I should ask the organizers. Well this is true (and I´ve done that, not getting any answers), but what I wanted from you was not that you read the minds of the organizers or make up some apology for them, but rather that you REFLECT THE TRUTH in your article. You don´t mention ANYTHING about these completely undemocratic manoevers not even the fact that a plenary debate was cancelled and that no free discussion was allowed in the final assembly. This was and is my main critiscism.

It could be that you didn´t manage to speak with a lot of delegates (I don´t know?), but I can tell you that huge sectors from almost every region were very angry. Many felt (correctly, I think) that it was a fraud, when they had to spent hours watching music and entertainment on friday evening, in stead of having a plenary debate.

2) We disagree obviously, on whether the publication in advance of official congress proposals is democratic or not. Yes, even though no counter-documents are available, it would be much more democratic to have the promoter-commitee´s proposal sent out. This would have allowed for delegates to discuss it, at least in their circumspritions and TO MAKE AMENDMENTS beforehand. Is this a secondary detail? No, it is not! And if we take into account the discontent of the majority of delegates with the statutes, it is quite clear, that this was a counscious manoevre to avoid a thorough debate in the ranks. In the end this attempt failed completely, as the pressure from below managed to get concessions from the organizers and the statutes were changed from top to bottom.

3) The CMR did sent out its document in advance. Actually the original version of our youth programme was published, more than one year ago and sold in hundreds of copies. This was done throughout 2007, when the CMR youth held two national encounters with the slogan "For the formation of the PSUV Youth".
http://venezuela.elmilitante.org/content/view/5967/

4) Your insisting about the supposedly unacceptable behaviour of IMT comrades is funny. Is it unacceptable that we discuss with the rank and file of the JPSUV?

I don´t want to give into a long dispute over this (better to correct it internally), but the fact is that we (including comrades from Hands Off Venezuela) were effectively excluded from a number of the internationalista events. One of our Cdes participated in one of these meetings but afterwards we recieved no further invitations. (and it is NOT true that we were adressed by organizers for our "unacceptable" behaviour). I hope that this will be corrected and that Hands Off Venezuela - which is obviously an important campaign and recognized publicly by Chavez and others many times - will be invited to future events.

5) Of course we should have realism and avoid sectarianism. (This is why my tendency, the CMR, is working within the PSUV/JPSUV and not standing on the sidelines). But we should also give a truthful account and not give room for selective omissions in what we write. And the fact that you write to an international audience makes it even more important. In the 80´s there were several groups internationally who applauded the Sandinista revolution completely uncritically. They were full of words of praise, writing about the marvellous wonders of Daniel Ortega. But when the revolution was defeated in the electoral field and when Ortega degenerated into Social-Democracy, they were suddently more quiet!! They were completely incapable of giving any explanation of what had happened and sent thousands of workers and youth who had followed them into a state of disillusions.

I fear that the style that you adher to in this article, will inevitably lead you in the same dirrection.

Objective Outlook

Despite our disagreement over which form of government is the best or most desirable, it is always a joy to see that there is an option and furthermore the youth is involved in that option. It is ever so significant that the youth be involved in the political happennings and makings of their respective political institutions.

Not to throw the baby away with the bath water

While in the university, Labour Militant (now Democratic Socialist Movement, the CWI section in Nigeria) lost a lot of its debates in plenary sessions of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), not because the logic of its arguments was always faulty, but because it seemed committed to a war of the puritanical "Marxists", against all comers! I see a similar thread in Patrick's language.

Some of the issues raised however, are quite germane. For example, I can see no justification for documents stating the principles of such a platform being distributed ONLY at the point of Congress! It makes more sense for the Congress' organisers to have circulated such as a template for debate and the proposition of alternatives (holistically or in its clauses), towards forging internal democracy in the organisation, from the word go. I also feel a bit wary on the repetitive statement of commitment to Chavez the Commander. As the symbol of the Venezuelan revolution, so to speak, this in itself might not exactly be out of place. But gems of a personality cult akin to the days of the Kremlin, in form if not in content, could be gleaned from this, in my view.

I would thus enjoin that the baby of revolutionary sense...somewhat, in Patrick's critique should not be thrown away with the bathwater of his downplaying the critical significance of the event for his supposedly more "truthful" account of the Congress

the puffed-up IWT

I don't know too much about Venezuela but I do know that the creation of a youth wing for the PSUV is a great advance [I wish the organized working class would do the same!], that everything there is pretty disorganized and that everywhere within the chavist movement there is a constant struggle against top-down tendencies. I'm happy to see whatever advances there are and didn't view Fred Fuentes' article as uncritical (even though he strangely omitted the sales figures on Trotsky literature).

What I do definitely know, though, is that I'm getting pretty sick of hearing about the so-called "the Marxists" and the so-called "International Marxist Tendency" as if everyone outside their club is a non-Marxist. Everybody knows that they are the "International Woods Tendency" [i.e., the IWT], and that they don't amount to anything in the UK or anywhere else. Sure, they did important initial work in organizing HOV and folks appreciate that but when they puff themselves to be anything more than the IWT, it's a joke. Can't you hear us laughing?

Puffed up?

Well, you should rather blame Hugo Chávez for "puffing up" the IMT and Alan Woods. And regarding support for the venezuelan revolution and fighting for turning the bolivarian revolution into a socialist revolution, I know of no other tendency than the IMT who did this before the coup in 2002.

The question of Venezuela is actually the main reason I´ve drawn close to the IMT, when the stalinists and reformists were talking against moving towards socialism in Venezuela, and when the trotskyite sects attacked Chávez and the revolution, the IMT had the balls to stand up both FOR the venezuelan revolution AND for socialist revolution.

Of course, now almost everybody praises the revolution and the move towards socialism, but where were they before the coup?

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