Venezuela: Chavez urges PSUV to debate how to win socialism by 2019

Hugo Chavez addresses the PSUV congress.

By Kiraz Janicke, Caracas

November 23, 2009 – – 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 said.

“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 responsibility”.

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 21st Century.”

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 union movement.

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 revolutionary movement.”

The party

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 Venezuelan people."

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.

By James Suggett, Mérida

November 19, 2009 – – 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 political party.

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 South America.

“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 respond.

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.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 11/25/2009 - 15:50


To the Summit of International Political Parties

To the Extraordinary Congress of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV)

Fraternal Greetings from the Partido Lakas ng Masa, Filipinas!

(PLM or the Power of the Laboring Masses Party)

Dear Comrades and Delegates,

The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) Filipinas sends you warm solidarity greetings on this momentous occasion of the gathering of Latin American and other left parties. We especially extend warm greetings to our comrades of the Latin American left parties. We thank you for the invitation to attend the gathering and the efforts made to ensure our attendance. We are sad that we cannot join you due to the pressing political situation in the Philippines leading up to the national elections in May 2010, however, we are honoured to be able to greet you through this solidarity message.

We would also like to use this opportunity to send warm greetings to the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Commandante Hugo Chavez.

Our party in the Philippines has been following the developments in the revolutionary movement in Latin America very closely, especially the unfolding of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and Bolivia, under the slogan of ‘Socialism for the 21st Century’. Therefore, warm greetings to the delegates from MAS in Bolivia, the FMLN El Salvador, FSLN Nicaragua, Frente Amplio in Uruguay.

And very special greetings to our comrades and heroes of the Communist Party of Cuba. Viva Cuba! Viva Fidel!

Our countries and regions have much in common. In the Filipinas, we too endured some 800 years of Spanish colonial rule, followed by the colonization and now semi-colonization by US imperialism. We too endured military dictatorships, such as the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s, propped up by US imperialism. We too suffer a form of under-developed capitalism, which is an elite system dominated by a handful of elite families and political clans that control the political system in the country. Our economy too is dominated by the US. Our elites too are completely subservient to the interests of US imperialism. We also have common elements in our languages, with over 40,000 Spanish words to be found in our national language Filipino or Tagalog. We too have a long history of national liberation struggles, including guerrilla warfare, waged by the left movement and the people. Therefore we in the PLM know that we have a lot to learn from your struggles in Latin America and from each other’s struggles.

Given the nature of the crisis facing the global capitalist system – the economic crisis of capitalism and the environmental crisis which threatens the very survival of humanity and the planet – there is a pressing need for international collaboration and solidarity. Given the scale of the crisis, we also think that we can only come to a clearer understanding of the specific nature of the crisis and the necessary alternative strategies to address it, through the discussions and exchanges of the socialist movement, at the international level. For example, some of our leaders attended the conference of Latin American political economists organized by the Centro International Miranda in October 2008 and found these exchanges invaluable in adding to our understanding of the economic crisis. Therefore we welcome initiatives such as these.

In fact we think that there is an urgent need for greater collaboration amongst socialist parties internationally. Therefore we would like to use this opportunity to invite all the parties present to the International Socialist Conference to be organized by our party, PLM, in the Philippines in November 2010, next year.

In this framework, we are also a hundred percent supportive of your call for greater unity of the movement. Here in the Philippines we have tasted the bitter fruits of disunity and sectarianism amongst different political forces. While we have made some progress in uniting the left in our country, we still have a long way to go. While ideological unity can be problematic, we emphasize the need for political unity and unity in struggle. This disunity of the left in our country weakens the unity and struggles of our class. Therefore we must also emphasize the importance of the unity of our class – of the workers, the urban poor, the rural poor and the oppressed.

Comrades, we have a lot we can say and you also have a lot to discuss and exchange amongst yourselves.

Therefore we wish you great success in the deliberations at the conference and the PSUV congress. We know that your deliberations will strengthen our struggles and we are looking forward to meeting and discussing with PSUV and other Latin American left parties at gatherings in the future, perhaps in the Philippines next year.

Mabuhay Socialismo!

Mabuhay PSUV!

Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Compañero Sonny Melencio,

Chairperson, Partido Lakas ng Masa, Filipinas.

November 18, 2009