Hugo Chavez addresses the PSUV congress.
By Kiraz Janicke, Caracas
November 23, 2009 – Venezuelanalysis.com – During an inaugural speech to the 772
delegates at the First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist
Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on November 21, Venezuela's President Hugo
Chavez raised a series of proposals to open the debate
and discussion over consolidating the struggle for socialism both
internationally and in Venezuela.
The global economic crisis should be viewed as an opportunity to
accelerate the dismantling of the capitalist system and the
construction of socialism, the Venezuelan president stated. In this context he called on the congress delegates to consider his
proposal to the international conference of left parties, organisations
and social movements to form a “Fifth Socialist International".
“The epicentre of revolutionary struggle is in our America. And
Venezuela is the epicentre of this battle. It is up to us to assume the
role of the vanguard and we have to assume it, so that we realise and
become aware of the huge responsibility we have on our shoulders”, he
“I call on this First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist
Party of Venezuela to include in its agenda for debate, the proposal to
convene political parties and currents to create the Fifth Socialist
International as a new organisation that fits the time and the
challenge in which we live, and that can become an instrument of
unification and coordination of the struggle of peoples to save this
planet”, Chavez declared.
Another fundamental issue that must be addressed in the congress, he insisted, is the ecological crisis. “The capitalist system has managed to impose a destructive mode of
production and development that is destroying the planet and
threatening the survival of the human species”, he said, “yet the big
capitalist countries like the United States that are the most
responsible [for the ecological crisis] do not want to assume
Elimination of the bourgeois state
The next decade will be an era “of great definitions” in global
politics, Chavez said. He argued that by 2019, Venezuela must be a
“socialist country” with “socialist values" based on the “social
ownership of the means of production.”
Citing Vladimir Lenin’s book, State and Revolution,
Chavez argued it is necessary to “eliminate the parasitical bourgeois
state” in Venezuela “in order to create a new revolutionary state from
below that is a real mechanism for the construction of Socialism of the
In order to achieve this, he insisted it was necessary to increase
the consciousness of the working class as a fundamental part of
Bolivarian socialism, and “to consolidate the alliance between the
party and working class.”
The party and the working class
Chavez argued that the party should debate with the working class to
awaken consciousness and revolutionary struggle for the consolidation
of the Bolivarian revolution underway in Venezuela, which is threatened
“by the vices of the elitist class”. “The elitist class culture even reaches into popular sectors, some
of whom wear red T-shirts and say they are Bolivarian” but “defend the
interests of private property”, he said, criticising sectors of the
In this regard, he stressed the need for the transformation of the
union structures and working-class organisation, which he said should
“assume the role of vanguard”.
Chavez also called for the party to be alert to and put an end to
the “vices of the old political class” that “aim to infiltrate
themselves into the government” and “into the centre of the party”. “All of these infiltrations are a product of the
capitalist sectors that aim to neutralise and put a brake on the
Chavez outlined his view on what the relationship should be
between the PSUV’s 7 million-strong membership base, its estimated 2
million active members and the 772 elected congress delegates, as well
as the relationship between the party and the government.
“Many popular struggles are drawn out; they get worn out and they
die off. That’s why a good, conscious and articulate vanguard is
important. That’s why I want you [the congress delegates] to be a
revolutionary vanguard, and I want to be there with you, but remember
this requires a lot of cohesion”, said the president.
“We will create a true vanguard, and for this we have to work hard.
We should be fighters who excel in moral and ethical values. [We] must
have knowledge of international, national and local issues, because
everything is connected”, Chavez continued.
The president emphasised that the vanguard of the party should
organise the popular bases, but should also orient itself beyond the
party membership. The congress delegates “must be spokespeople and have
a vibrant connection with the grassroots, social movements and the
In this sense, Chavez said the defence and protection of
international currency reserves, of petroleum, the rational use of
energy, the deepening of socialism and the defence of socialism
against growing US militarisation in the region should be on the
agenda for discussion.
He said that various regional and thematic commissions would be set
up to facilitate debate and discussion. “These issues should be topics
for debate, for discussion between the party and government, with the
economic cabinet, with the communities, the workers, with different
sectors of country”, he said.
During his speech Chavez also read out a special invitation to Cuban
leader Fidel Castro to attend the First Extraordinary Congress of the
PSUV, which will remain in session until April 2010.
Venezuela's left parties discuss cooperation
By James Suggett, Mérida
November 19, 2009 – Venezuelanalysis.com – Venezuela’s most prominent left-wing parties renewed inter-party dialogue
this week, while the largest coalition of opposition parties announced
it is preparing a list of candidates for the National Assembly
elections that are scheduled to take place in September 2010.
On November 14, President Hugo Chavez called on the United Socialist
Party of Venezuela (PSUV), of which he is president, to hold debates
and discussions with the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and Patria
Para Todos (PPT).
The move came in the run up to the international conference of
leftist parties that the PSUV is hosting in Caracas on November 19-21, as well as the PSUV congress that is taking place until April 2010, and is expected to bring momentous debates over the
party’s character and direction.
Both the PCV and PPT support Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution he
leads, but are not part of the PSUV. Chavez’s strongest supporters
formed the PSUV in 2007 with the goal of consolidating all
pro-revolution parties, and it is now by far Venezuela’s largest single
In a press conference on November 17, PCV general secretary Oscar
Figuera welcomed Chavez’s invitation to dialogue. He said it is “of
greatest strategic importance” that the leftist parties “advance toward
the construction of a space for collective leadership.”
Figuera said the inter-party discussions must reach beyond electoral
matters to confront broader challenges to the Bolivarian revolution. He
alluded to Colombia’s recent military pact with the United States,
which will allow the US military to operate with diplomatic immunity
in Colombia and expand intelligence and military operations across
“There is a much more complex context that demands this unity among
all popular revolutionary forces of Venezuela: It is the reactionary
counter-offensive of imperialism against the peoples and progressive
governments on this continent”, said Figuera.
The PCV has consistently coincided with Chavez’s anti-imperialism,
but criticized many PSUV officials for devoting too much time to party
activity and neglecting workers’ rights among other issues.
Similarly, PPT spokesperson Andrea Tavares said, “We want to discuss
fundamental issues that will contribute to the consolidation of the
revolutionary process”, such as “strategies for the defence of the
homeland in the context of war”.
Tavares did not indicate whether the PPT will consider endorsing
PSUV candidates for next year’s National Assembly elections. “We
demonstrated in the previous elections that participating as a separate
party does not convert us into an element of the counter-revolutionary
opposition”, said Tavares.
When the PCV and PPT ran alternative candidates to those of the PSUV
in the 2008 state and local elections, Chavez called the parties
“traitors”, “deserters”, “disloyal” and “counter-revolutionary”, and
threatened to “sweep them off the map”.
Despite the two parties’ maintenance of independent candidacies, the
PSUV still won control of 17 out of 22 state governorships and more
than 80% of the nation’s mayoralties.
Also on November 17, a coalition of Venezuela’s principal opposition
parties announced that by the end of the first quarter of 2010 it will
present a list of candidates who will contest Venezuela’s more than 165
National Assembly seats next September.
The coalition is known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable and
includes Democratic Action (Acción Democrática), the Christian-democratic party COPEI, Brave People's Alliance (Alianza Bravo Pueblo),
A New Era (Un Nuevo Tiempo), Justice First (Primero Justicia), the
social-democratic party PODEMOS and several others.
Jorge Borges, the coordinator of the Justice First party, said the
parties must first solve the “puzzle” of how the coalition will choose
its candidates. Borges said the coalition will hold primary elections
in some districts, and decide by “consensus” in other districts,
implying that the party leaders will decide.
So far, the PSUV is the only party in Venezuela to have chosen its party leaders and candidates through national elections.
According to the most recent national public opinion poll conducted
by the Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD), the opposition
appears to have a good chance of winning a block of seats in the
National Assembly next September: 33.5% of respondents to the poll said they identify with the PSUV,
while 25% identify with the principal opposition parties and 41%
identify with neither political camp.
When asked which candidates for the National Assembly will better
represent the interests of the country, 36.6% responded that the Chavez-backed candidates will, 37.2% responded that opposition candidates
will and 26.2% said they were unsure or did not respond.
When asked who they will vote for in next year’s elections, 32.4%
responded that they will vote for Chavista candidates, 24.8% said they
will vote for opposition candidates, 31.2% said they will vote for
independent candidates and 11.6% said they were not sure or did not
In addition, 56.7% of respondents said it would be “convenient for
the country” if the opposition were to gain an “important presence” in
the legislature, while 35.2% said it would be best for the Chavez
supporters to maintain their majority.
Meanwhile, 62% of respondents evaluated Chavez’s job performance as
president to be either “somewhat good”, “good” or “excellent”.
This situation contrasts sharply to the run-up to the 2005 National
Assembly elections, which most opposition parties boycotted due to
their evident lack of electoral support. At that time, Chavez and his
supporters were still emboldened by the opposition-led military coup
and management-led oil industry shutdown which failed to oust Chavez in
2002 and 2003.