Venezuela's Socialist Party Congress Opens

Some notes on Chavez's latest reflections at PSUV founding congress

January 13th 2008, by Fred Fuentes

“In order that December 2 never happens again” Chavez argued on Saturday that it was necessary to go on the offensive with the “United Socialist Party of Venezuela as the spearhead and vanguard” of the revolution. “Enough with betraying the people. We have arrived here to make a real revolution or die trying”.

Chavez uttered these words as he opened the founding congress of the provisionally named United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). This speech was the latest in a series of reflections, following the defeat of his proposed constitutional reform last December 2.

He argued the case for why the social movements needed to transform themselves into a political force capable of driving forward this revolutionary process. Referring to Mission Ribas - which has organised some 500,000 previous excluded Venezuelans into secondary education - he stated: “This is a social movement which at the same time should form itself as a political force, as should the unions and other organisations”.This transformational political force, said Chavez, required a united and coherent leadership in order to propel the movement towards its goal, whilst tackling the issues of lack of cohesion and internal disorder between the parties that threatened the continuity of the revolution.

“One of the ways to confront [these challenges] is through the formation of the PSUV, the largest political party that has existed in the last 150 years of Venezuela’s history, “larger because of its level of cohesion, its strength, because of its connection with the popular masses and because of its political efficacy and revolutionary quality”. (These last two qualities are in reference to some of the ideas of Alfredo Maneiro, founder of La Causa R, about who I hope to post some thoughts about next week here on the blog).

Outlining some of the strategic characteristics need for such a party, Chavez commented that the PSUV had to become a party that would subvert the historic capitalist model of the bourgeois state.

It also had to struggle to avoid the rise of a “new Bolivarian oligarchy”, of a new bourgeois, because these groups could easily convert themselves into traitors and counterrevolutionaries. In this sense it was important to impede any infiltrations in the PSUV by the bourgeois.

These comments come in light of his recent statements about the need to form an alliance with the national bourgeois. Whilst many on the left have pointed to this as evidence of the rightward shift of the government since December 2, many have ignored the statements he made about the need to read Lenin at the same time. Lenin was a proponent of the need to form alliance with different classes, including in some cases with sections of the bourgeois, whilst arguing for the independent organisation of the workers, and working class leadership of the revolutionary movement as a prerequisite for its victory and survival.

He outlined some ideas for the profile of a militant of the new party quoting Fidel Castro and Che Guevara: “A cadre is an individual that has achieved the sufficient political development so as to be able to interpret the grand strategic lines emanating from the central power, make them theirs and transmit them to the masses in order to orientate them”.

Understanding the real history of a country and the rise of revolutionary processes was important stated Chavez, recalling that this year marked 100 years of US domination over Venezuela, when US intervention resulted in the overthrow of then president Cipriano Castro and ended the Liberal Restoration Revolution he had led.
As part of learning about history, revolutionary processes and training up cadres, he announced that a printing press for the PSUV would be shortly inaugurated to publish books and ideological texts. The PSUV will be “a school to transform and create the new historic bloc and construct socialism it all its ambits”.

To fund this, an account would be set up next month for PSUV militants to deposit money.

One of Chavez’s big errors in the formation of the PSUV was his initial ultimatum to the other parties to dissolve or else be seen as part of the opposition. However none of this sectarian tone was present in his speech at the congress. He called on everyone to respect the different social currents, such as student groups, indigenous movements and ecologists who were not in the new party, as well as publicly withdrawing his previous criticism of the Communist Party and Homeland For All for not accepting to dissolve into the PSUV.

“We need to link up with them in order to create the grand patriotic alliance” he said, whilst maintaining that “we need to count on a tightly united party because the internal and external battles will intensify in 2008”.

His call for unity was not restricted just to Venezuela. “There is a resurrection of the left in the world. Once again the socialist banner is being raised and, once again, we are the vanguard, together with other countries”. He argued that the PSUV had to struggle, together with other movements and socialist parties to “achieve an alliance of the left in this continent so that together we can defend ourselves from imperialist attacks.

Turning to the upcoming elections for governors and mayors scheduled for the end of the year, Chavez said that all personalism and sectarianism had to be put aside, and that all candidates had to have the support of the base. This would be crucial to ensuring victory in this important battle he explained, pointing out that if the opposition was to gain control of important governorships of mayor’s offices “they would use the resource of the state and their policies as an armed wing” in their plans to bring down the national government.

He also referred to the need for the PSUV to lead the fight to reform the constitution, including campaign allow for continuous re-election of the president. He stated that it was still necessary to reform the constitution, but that this would have to wait: “we need to redo the game, revise our errors, revise, rectify and re-impulse the revolution”.

You can see a video of his speech at

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