Chavez calls for ‘revolution in the revolution' -- On the spot reports from Venezuela on the eve of the Nov. 23 elections

By Barry Healy & Annolies Truman, Caracas

November 22, 2008 -- Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez called for a “revolution within the revolution” at an 8000 strong United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) rally here on November 18.

Chavez called upon the PSUV ranks to hold successful PSUV candidates to account if they failed to act in the interests of the people after the election.

The rally was organised to inspire PSUV organisers and local committee members in the lead-up to the vote for state governors and local government positions on November 23. Poliedro Stadium, on the edge of Caracas, was a sea of red T-shirts and banners, and echoed with energetic revolutionary singing and chanting.

Contingents of local PSUV battalions and international solidarity groups from Argentina, Peru and Australia listened to Jorge Rodriguez, PSUV candidate for mayor of the Caracas municipality of Liberatador, and candidate for mayor of Greater Caracas, Aristobulo Isturiz.

Rodriguez was Venezuelan vice-president during 2007, while Isturiz is a former education minister.

Rally participants were urged to ensure the maximum turnout for voting on November 23. Rodriguez claimed that the PSUV had made a mistake in relation to the December 2007 constitutional reform referendum campaign by giving insufficient attention to turning out the voting support base.

The opposition won a narrow victory against Chavez’s proposed reforms — that aimed to help open the way towards socialism — when close to 3 million people who voted for Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections abstained from the referendum.

Isturiz stressed the political and programatic content of the campaign, contrasting it with bourgeois marketing campaigns. He said PSUV activists need to construct an alternative to the capitalist model that is credible and sustainable.

“We need to end poverty and social exclusion. Public spaces need to be accessible to all”, he said. He also argued that the PSUV campaign has an internationalist outlook.

The crowd greeted Chavez with loud enthusiasm. “Get up early on Sunday”, he said. “We have to be as organised as we were for the 1998 presidential election [when Chavez first won office].”

At the end of his speech he lifted two children up to the podium. “We need Bolivar’s vision of a Gran Colombia [united Latin America] so these children and all children can have a future”, Chavez said.

[Barry Healy & Annolies Truman are in Caracas as part of the brigade orgabised by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network.]

Venezuela: Socialist campaign gathers momentum as vote nears

By Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas

November 21, 2008 -- At a mass rally of PSUV activists in the Poliedro Stadium on November 18, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for “Operation Round Up” to gather the maximum number of votes for candidates of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the November 23 elections for state governors and municipal mayors.

The enthusiastic rally of around 8000 were attending the final meeting of the PSUV campaign in the Caracas region, preparing for the last days of organising before polling day.

“If we have done what we had to do, if we have touched base with the people, if we have used the right tactics … if we have convinced those who were not convinced, if the logistics are properly organised, if the red campaign has been strong enough … then we could win all the governors”, Chavez told the crowd, according to the November 19 Ultimas Noticias.

“The people in the street, together with the National Armed Forces, are the guarantors that the result of the popular vote will be respected”, Chavez added.

This meeting followed the final mass march and rally in central Caracas on November 15, which attracted tens of thousands of PSUV supporters who gathered at five points in the city and marched to Plaza O´Leary in the inner suburb of Silencio.

The crowd applauded speeches by PSUV candidates Aristibulo Isturiz for mayor of Greater Caracas and Jorge Rodriquez for mayor of the huge municipality of Libertador. They also danced to Chavista bands and responded to rousing chants and rap music.

At a huge rally in the oil-rich and hotly contested state of Zulia on November 16, Chavez urged the people to “liberate the region”, which has been ruled by corrupt, right-wing opposition leader Manuel Rosales.

Chavez called for support for the PSUV candidate for governor, Gian Carlo Di Martino.

At a separate campaign meeting in Zulia the same day, Di Martino declared that if he won, “the first 100 days of government would be aimed at repairing the damage caused by Manuel Rosales”, the November 17 Diario Vea reported.

The November 15 Ultimas Noticias reported that at a November 14 mass meeting in the state of Anzoategui, Chavez warned the corporate media: “No one is allowed to announce the results of the November 23 elections before the CNE (National Electoral Commission). If any communications media act before the official closure, they will be taken off the air.”

While maintaining a hectic pace of election campaigning, Chavez has also been opening public projects, as part of the revolutionary Bolivarian government’s program of expanding social and economic development in the country.

Inaugurating a new milk plant in the state of Barinas, Chavez described socialist economic development as “a school for the transformation of the human spirit and consciousness”. This process creates workers who are “conscious workers, not alienated workers”, he said, according to the November 17 Diario Vea.

Such development “produces the new human being, and the new society — socialism”.

Chavez announced that the government would soon build 11 more milk processing plants similar to that in Barinas, which was established with the assistance of the Iranian government.

The November 16 Diario Vea also reported Chavez’s speech at a graduation ceremony for tertiary students studying as part of Mission Sucre on November 15. Chavez described Mission Sucre (a government program which has provided more than 350,000 Venezuelans with free university education since 2003) as “the spirit of the Bolivarian Revolution”.

The previous day, the president had opened a new fish-processing factory in the port of Puerto Cabello in Carabobo state, declaring that such projects were essential for the progress of the revolution.

[These articles first appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #776, November 26, 2008.]