The Foundation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)

Formation of the PSUV: A Step Forward
By Carlos Torchia

During the last 15 years Venezuelan people have greatly contributed to the struggle against capitalism and for a just society.

Firstly, the Bolivarian revolution has shown to the people of the world that is possible to challenge neoliberalism, which has devastated the lives of millions not only in the Third World but also in the countries of the center, and successfully confront imperialism.

Secondly, the Bolivarian revolution has restored the idea that socialism is needed to replace savage capitalism, which is threatening to annihilated humankind. The project “Socialism for the 21st Century” is beginning to resonate not only in Venezuela and Latin America but everywhere that people face exploitation, hunger and environmental degradation. The Venezuelan revolution has challenged the reactionary Margaret Thatcher’s slogan TINA (There Is No Alternative – to capitalism]).

Thirdly, the foundation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) should be a key instrument not only for the Venezuelan revolution but also an asset for all of us. Why?

The idea of a revolutionary party has been discredited by the negative experience of the Communist parties in building the so-called “real socialism” or state socialism in the former USSR. Non-democratic and bureaucratic socialism was built upon the image and likeness of the party. On the other hand we have witnessed the bankruptcy of the Social Democratic parties, which have renounced to the idea of socialism, embracing neoliberalism. The victory of the socialist revolution in Venezuela and other countries needs the presence of a democratic revolutionary party, which should not substitute for the initiative of the people but rather to accompany it in building the new society. The foundation of the PSUV is intended as to be a step in this direction.

The foundation Congress of the PSUV seems to have taken into account the experience of the Worker’s Party of Brazil (PT), which became a loose organization formed of various factions, which were in fact parties within the party. In the PT, the party leadership was divorced from its militants and the Brazilian people and had a free hand to move the party to the right, accepting neoliberalism as the only game in town. This type of party cannot be the instrument to help the masses to overthrow capitalism.The anti neoliberal rebellions in Latin America, in Argentina in 2000-2002, and in Bolivia 2002 and 2005, scored formidable victories over the ruling classes, victories that paralyzed their countries and expelled several presidents from office. Yet in the end the social movements were unable to unified all the segmented struggles in one national alternative to overthrow the rule of the capitalist class. This unifying tool, the revolutionary party of the oppressed, was absent in the case of Argentina and Bolivia anti neoliberal rebellions.

The foundation congress of the PSUV
The foundation of the PSUV is a significant step in the task of giving a unified direction to the Venezuelan people in the struggle of resolve the contradiction between capitalism and socialism. That is why a number of different socialist tendencies decided to join the new party.
President Hugo Chavez sensing this urgency, proclaimed: “The PSUV is born, destined to make history.” Assessing the Congress outcome, Chavez said that the foundation of the Party signifies a “revolution within the revolution… [The party] fundamental role is to be…the biggest guarantee of [the revolution’s] permanence”.

President Chavez called for the creation of the party on December 15, 2006, to unify the revolutionary forces in the country and to integrate in one body the heterogeneous electoral movement that had supported him from the beginning. From April to June 2007, some 5.7 million Venezuelans responded to Chávez’s call to support this party. This was an astonishing development in a country that had no tradition of popular political participation in mass parties, a country in which for 50 years the masses had been excluded from politics that was only the privilege of the elites. This massive response constituted a great achievement of the Bolivarian revolution, at time when in the so-called western democracies people reject participation in party politics. Cells of 300 or more people formed a local battalion. Seven to 12 battalions in a district came together to form socialist circumscriptions or districts (or communes). From these districts 1,674 delegates to the founding congress were elected.It can be said was that the party was being founded from below, even though the initial call was issued from above.

The congress sessions were held from January to March 2008. There was a democratic and tense exchange in the discussion of key documents such as the declaration of principles, program and statutes. The congress was a battleground as delegates representing grass roots organizations seeking to deepen the process confronted the bureaucratic and right-wing sectors seeking to put brake to the revolution. In the end these right-wing forces suffered a setback.

The congress approved a clear anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist platform. The right-wing delegates had wanted to eliminate the anti-capitalist stance.

The program discussed by the congress affirmed that “the aim is to move towards a communal state socialism, with the strategic objective of totally neutralizing the law of value within the functioning of the economy… [The objective] is to end poverty, giving power to the poor… the people… [to] build a government based on Councils of Popular Power, where workers, peasants, students and popular masses are direct protagonists in the exercising political power… [promoting] democracy and an assembly-based culture within the party and in all spheres where it is present (communities, work fronts, areas of study, activity etc.)… [to] struggle to make self-government a reality [in] cities, communal councils and communes as the basic political units…”
Tensions appeared also with regard to democratic participation, transparency and the way the congress was conducted, specifically in regard of the election of the leadership. Some delegates expressed that was necessary to “profoundly revise the internal processes that during the founding congress have unfolded…

A heated discussion was also held on the subject of corruption and bureaucracy. In this respect a strong paragraph was included in the declaration of principles: “The inefficiency in the exercise of public power, bureaucratism, the low level of participation of the people in the control and management of government, corruption and widening gap between the people and government, threaten to undermine the trust that the people have placed in the Bolivarian revolution.”

According to General Alberto Muller Rojas, a close ally of president Chavez and one of the party vice-presidents, bureaucratism is the most significant enemy of the revolution, even more dangerous than the imperialist and rightwing threats, because tends to create a new class that makes party life (and society) much more rigid. This was exactly what happened in the former USSR.

PSUV Leadership. The great diversity of the party was reflected in the composition of the elected leadership: afro-descendents, indigenous, whites, and youth with a variety of different political positions. The leadership, which was elected for a one-year term, consists mainly of cadres that supported president Chavez from the beginning of the revolutionary process. The elected leadership represents a happy medium between the most radical delegates and the moderate ones. Hugo Chavez was elected president of the PSUV.

The party is rich in currents and tendencies, although they do not constitute factions. (This should mean that all the its militants are bound to the party’s decisions.) In the party coexist Marxist, Christian and American indigenous cosmovisions.

The tasks ahead for the PSUV
According to General Muller Rojas, the main task is to organize the party territorially either on the basis of radical geography, which consider a special territorial division that take into consideration cultural and economic plurality in regions, or following the traditional Venezuelan state territorial division. In any case the party must have a presence in the whole Venezuelan territory.

Second, the PSUV must build an alliance with the Patriotic Pole, even though many of its members are militants of the PSUV. The Patriotic Pole groups political organizations that have their own history, traditions and space, such as the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) Fatherland for All (PPT) and the People’s Electoral Movement (MEP). According to General Muller Rojas, to forge and alliance between the PSUV and the Patriotic Pole is necessary to push ahead the socialist transformation of Venezuela.

Third, the relationship between Chavez’s government and the party is symbiotic. The party is not merely the external support to the Bolivarian government. The party should be the promoter, the driving force of the revolution policies, in the understanding that the government does not dictate what to do to the party, but rather both government and party should work together and with the social movements.

Fourth, The PSUV should reduce the role of bureaucracy and maximize the role of ad-hoc structures. The political cadres of PSUV must commit themselves more to “ad-hoc-cracy” than to bureaucracy, when they work supporting governmental plans in health, educational or the economic field.

In sum, after the foundation congress PSUV’s militants have a chance to build a political party to help the people make irreversible the transition to socialism in Venezuela. This will require breaking the capitalist bureaucratic state and replacing it with the communal state based in people’s power, and resisting imperialist intervention. The PSUV’s cadres could make a great contribution in restoring the credibility of the concept of a revolutionary party in the eyes of the oppressed of the planet. If the PSUV succeeds in these goals it should be an invaluable contribution of Venezuelan people to the struggle for socialism in the planet.

Pending issues and questions
1. Given the fact, that as General Muller Rojas stated, a party cannot be built in one year, it is understandable that President Chavez has been elected president of the PSUV. However, in the future this situation should change.

2. The same cautionary note would apply regarding the power that the congress gave to president Chavez to appoint five vice-president to the party’s leadership (among them General Muller Rojas)

3. It should be clearly understood that the PSUV is not the government and that the party’s role should be “the political controller of the objectives of the government and will keep a watch over it to ensure these objectives are carried out,” as the programmatic platform proposed.

4. Five of 15 elected members of the executive committee are women. Will further progress be made in integrating women into the leadership of the party at all levels?

5. What about the presence of the organized working class in the congress?

6. Are capitalist elements still being admitted as members of the party? Are there capitalist elements in the party’s leadership?
(1) Fuentes, Federico. “The PSUV is born, destined to make history”
(2) Venezuela: Draft program and principles of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) p. 3
(5) United Party of Venezuela is an Instrument for Socialism. Pp. 4-5

Sweeping New Measures: Against Capitalist Mining Corporations

Venezuela Stops Open-Pits and Gold Mines
May 16th 2008, by Reuters

CARACAS - Mineral-laden Venezuela on Thursday shut the door to new gold projects and threatened other mining and logging concessions in a step by leftist President Hugo Chavez to tighten control of natural resources.

Environment Minister Yuviri Ortega said the South American country will not give permits for any open-pit mines and will not allow companies to look for gold in its vast Imataca Forest Reserve.

"Venezuela will deny environmental permits for the open-pit mine exploitation," Ortega told Reuters in an interview. "Neither private or public companies will for now explore Imataca's gold." Citing ecological damage, Ortega said the government was also revising all its mining and timber concessions.

OPEC member Venezuela is one of the world's top oil exporters. With its coffers bulging from record crude prices, it feels it does not need to risk further harming its environment with more mining and logging.

"For the moment we do not need to exploit these minerals; as the president says, we don't need diamonds or gold, or coal," she said, but did not give further details.
Much of the Caribbean state remains largely unpopulated and it houses diverse eco-systems including a significant chunk of the Amazon rain forest.

The ban on mining in the 9 million acre (3.8 million hectare) Imataca reserve and the end to permits for open pits was a blow to Crystallex and Gold Reserve. The Canadian companies have long been seeking environmental permits to exploit their concessions in the reserve.

Chavez last year launched a nationalization drive, increasing state control over the country's oil industry. The U.S critic has since taken over key sectors of the economy including electricity, telecoms, cement and steel companies.

He has been especially tough on foreign companies but typically pays a fair price for nationalized assets.

The Imataca reserve, which includes a town called El Dorado in remote southeastern Venezuela, sits on what is believed to be one of Latin America's largest gold deposits.Several large and mainly state-run companies dig iron ore, coal and bauxite in Venezuela. Workers last week halted operations at Venezuela's Isodora gold mine owned by Hecla, demanding it be nationalized.

It was not clear if the US miner would be affected by the new contract revisions. Crystallex and Gold Reserve shares were largely unmoved on Thursday. The stocks have taken a battering in recent weeks as news filtered out suggesting the government would not give them permits.

(Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by David Gregorio)
Story by Ana Isabel Martinez
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The "Israel of Latin America” found itself Completly Isolated

Colombia Crisis Strengthens Venezuela, Isolates U.S.

© 2008 Paul Kellogg

War preparations that might have involved three or more Latin American nations, came quickly to a halt March 7 at the Rio Group Summit in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A Venezuelan-brokered deal ended a crisis that began with a Colombian military incursion into Ecuador. The great fear in Venezuela was that such a war would have ended up pitting Venezuela against U.S.-backed Colombia, the proxy war against the U.S. that has been feared for years. Instead, the resolution of the deal has weakened the hand of the U.S., and strengthened the prestige of Venezuela throughout the region.

The crisis began March 1, when Colombia’s air force attacked a training camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a camp based over the border in neighbouring Ecuador. According to the Colombian military, the raid killed 17 FARC guerrillas, including Raúl Reyes, a senior FARC leader. Colombian defence ministry spokespeople called it “the most important strike yet” against the FARC.[1]There are not many countries in the world that can bomb a neighbour, kill and maim dozens, and then boast about it. The fact that Colombian government spokespersons could so boast, gives an insight into the role Colombia plays on the northern edge of the South American continent. Colombia is a military client state of the world’s biggest imperialist power. The U.S. currently gives Colombia more than $600-million a year in military aid,[2] a rate of arms shipments that has been ongoing for years. From 1999 to 2004, U.S. military aid to Colombia totalled $3.6-billion, an average of just under $600-million a year, and the most of any country in Latin America – in the world trailing only Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.[3] With good reason, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez referred to Colombia as the “Israel of Latin America.”[4]

And just like in Israel , this aid does not come without strings. In exchange for these billions (more than $3-billion a year in Israel’s case), both Israel and Colombia are expected to act as “proxies” for the U.S. So in 2006, when the U.S. was testing the waters for an expanded war beyond the borders of Iraq , it was its client state, Israel, which (unsuccessfully) opened a second front in Lebanon.

Colombia plays the same role in Latin America . It is no secret that the U.S. would like to see the back of Chávez, but it is also no secret that, bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan , it is in no position to carry out his overthrow directly. But, as happened in the 1980s against Nicaragua, a proxy war waged by U.S. allies has always remained a possibility. The most likely proxy has always been Colombia.

So hard in the wake of Colombia’s bombing raid in Ecuador, the war drums were beating throughout North America. Canada ’s Globe and Mail did not warn against the attack on Ecuador ’s sovereignty. Instead, it talked about “Chavez’s role in terrorism” saying that laptops recovered in the raid showed that Chavez had been a “state sponsor of terrorism.”[5] Chávez denied funding the FARC telling the newspaper El Universal “I would never do it.”[6] The issue of the funding of the FARC is a little wide of the mark in any case. We already know that the U.S. backs Colombia to the hilt, and the terror of the Colombian government’s use of this money is widely documented. As of one year ago, at the time of a state visit by Bush to Colombia, eight congressmen, “all tied to the president” had been “jailed for working with right-wing death squads.”[7]But the crisis evolved in a direction that caught Bush and his supporters completely by surprise. Ecuador of course cut diplomatic ties with Colombia, but so did Venezuela, joined on March 6 by Daniel Ortega’s newly-elected government in Nicaragua. Ecuador expelled Colombian diplomats, as did Venezuela. Ecuador of course sent troops to the region attacked by Colombia, but again, they did not stand alone – March 2, Venezuela ordered 10 battalions “usually amounting to at least 6,000 troops”[8] to the border with Colombia.

The “Israel of Latin America” suddenly found itself completely isolated, surrounded by neighbours who are increasingly confident to act in defiance of the United States, and unwilling to sit by while a U.S. client-state blatantly violates the sovereignty of a neighbour with a murderous bombing raid.

So it was that, just one week later, a chastised Colombian president Uribe had to agree to a resolution backed by the 20 member Río Group, which “included a rejection of the violation of Ecuadorian territorial sovereignty and an endorsement of the resolution of the Organization of American States (OAS), which had denounced Colombia 's attack.”[9] If this represented a profound humiliation for Uribe, it was even more humiliating for the United States . March 18, the OAS approved the Rio Group resolution by a vote that would have been unanimous except for the United States , which expressed “reservations.”[10] U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said, “we believe they [the Colombians] were acting in a justifiable way.”[11]

Of course Negroponte thought they were justified. As U.S. ambassador to Honduras , he was closely associated with the barbaric violation of Nicaraguan sovereignty in the 1980s, the proxy war carried out by the right-wing “contras”. But twenty years later, the U.S. stands completely alone.

We know from the long and bloody history of imperialist intervention into Latin America, that there are two big dangers facing any government attempting to break imperialism’s grip – coup d’état and invasion. In 2002, one million of the poorest in Caracas took to the streets and prevented a right-wing, U.S. supported coup against Chávez. Now in 2008, a proxy war with Colombia has been averted by solidarity between Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua, backed ultimately by every country in the Americas except the United States.

The reach of the U.S. in Latin America has weakened, and the new movements towards sovereignty and independence, without question led by Venezuela, are gaining strength.

[1] Cited in Simon Romero, “Colombian Forces Kill Senior Guerrilla Commander, Official Says,” The New York Times, March 2, 2008,
[2] According to Romero, “Colombian Forces Kill Senior Guerrilla Commander”
[3] The Center for Public Integrity, “U.S. Military Aid Before and After 9/11,”
[4] Associated Press, “Chavez: Colombia has become the Israel of Latin America,”, Marcy 7, 2008,
[5] Editorial, “Chavez’s role in terrorism,” The Globe and Mail, March 7, 2008
[6] Cited in Alexei Barrioneuvo, “U.S. Studies Rebel’s Data for Chávez Link,” The New York Times, April 7, 2008,
[7] Juan Forero, “Colombia’s Uribe Faces Crisis on Death Squads,” All Things Considered, NPR (National Public Radio), March 16, 2007,
[8] “Venezuela troops ‘move to border,’” BBC News, March 5, 2008,
[9] James Suggett, “Venezuela and Ecuador Resolve Differences with Colombia at Regional Summit,” March 8, 2008, – The Rio Group “was created in 1986 to be a political forum for Latin American heads of state.”
[10] Kiaraz Janicke, “OAS Rejects Colombia’s Military Incursion into Ecuador,” March 18, 2008,
[11] DPA, “OAS rejects Colombian military incursion in Ecuador,” Thaindian News, March 18, 2008,

Boliva Faces Separatist Effort from Right and U.S.

Venezuela Declares Solidarity with Bolivia’s Government
May 3rd 2008,
by Kiraz Janicke

Caracas, May 3, 2008, ( – The Venezuelan government reaffirmed its support for the territorial integrity of Bolivia and the government of Evo Morales in the face of moves by rightwing oppositionists in the state of Santa Cruz, to hold an unconstitutional referendum on autonomy this Sunday, May 4.

The referendum in Bolivia’s wealthiest state has provoked fears that rightwing governors opposed to President Morales’s policies of wealth distribution, in the states of Tarija, Pando and Beni, - which possess large fields of crude oil, natural gas and other minerals and represent Bolivia’s most productive agricultural land – could convoke similar referendums, potentially leading to a civil war and the break up of Bolivia.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro said in a speech on Wednesday, “The Bolivian people should know that from here, from Bolivarian Venezuela, we are with President Evo Morales and the unity of Bolivia in any circumstance, whatever happens.” Bolivia’s Ambassador in Venezuela, Jorge Alvarado Rivas, said the referendum is unconstitutional and illegitimate and aims to divide the country.

“This process is unconstitutional and illegal, it violates the political Constitution of the State, it violates many laws; neither does it have legitimacy because international organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the Rio Group, and the European Union have manifested that they will not recognise the results of this consultation because it is anti-constitutional. Consequently… it can not be recognised by the [Bolivian] government.”

Rivas believes that the United Status is behind the illegal referendum: “What we rightly believe is that this is a policy to divide us, to weaken us – the movements that we are experiencing in Latin America – coming from the United States, which always aim to control our energy resources…these regions that are looking to separate themselves from Bolivia are the zones where the largest reserves of hydrocarbons exist.”Key points of the proposed Santa Cruz autonomy statute include:

* Santa Cruz would have a directly-elected governor and an elected assembly with powers to legislate on issues ranging from the judiciary to taxes.
• Santa Cruz would define its own polices on taxes, telecommunications, housing and land, and railway transport. This is a direct challenge to the central government's land reform plans to redistribute unused lands to the country's indigenous majority.
• The governor would have the right to sign international accords.
• Santa Cruz would have the power to form and run its own police force.
• The governor, deputy governor, and leaders of the department's 15 provinces (similar to counties) would have immunity from prosecution.
• The immigration status of foreigners in Santa Cruz would be regulated by the department, not by the national government.

OAS political secretary, Dante Caputo, has been attempting to facilitate a dialogue between the Santa Cruz opposition and the national government and suspend the referendum. However, Santa Cruz governor Ruben Costas refused to meet with Caputo this week and the president of the so-called Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, Branco Marinkovic (of Croatian origin), said nothing will stop the referendum from going ahead and accused Caputo of being a “Chavista” (as supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are called).

On Friday the OAS passed a resolution reaffirming the territorial integrity of Bolivia and manifesting its “solidarity and respect” with the Bolivian government.

The text of the resolution did not specifically mention the autonomy referendum in Santa Cruz, but rejected “any attempt to rupture” the constitutional order and territorial integrity of Bolivia.

The United States, however, declared its “neutrality” in the face of these divisions, which many fear could lead to civil war in the landlocked country.

Journalist Eduardo Dimas questioned, “It is no secret that the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Philip S. Goldberg, is a specialist in the dismemberment of countries, an experience he acquired during his term in the former Yugoslavia. Goldberg spends more time in Santa Cruz than in La Paz, Bolivia's capital. Why?”

Research by US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger recently revealed that the US has transferred more than $120 million per year, since 2005, to Bolivian opposition groups and NGOs through organizations such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy.Venezuelan opposition figures such as student leader Jon Goicoechea, have also travelled to Bolivia recently to meet with and “train” rightwing Bolivian student groups. Video footage of the meeting with Goicoechea broadcast on VTV showed the students taking about how they were going to overthrow the democratically elected governments in Bolivia and Venezuela and singing, “Evo, son of a whore.”

Conversely, leftist student groups from the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, together with indigenous groups in Venezuela held a march of several thousand in support of the territorial integrity of Bolivia and the government of Evo Morales in Caracas on Friday.

José Poyo, President of the Indigenous Parliament of Latin America, declared, “From here we are giving full support and from the state of Amazonas, together with the state of Bolivar and the states in the east of the country, we will hold a great rally of indigenous peoples, a vigil from Saturday until Sunday. The Indigenous Parliament, the National Indigenous Council of Venezuela and all the indigenous organizations will gather to show our solidarity, to monitor the situation that is happening in our brother republic of Bolivia.”

Yul Jabour, a Venezuelan deputy to the Andean Parliament said, “Yesterday it was Kosovo, today it is Bolivia, tomorrow it will surely be Paraguay, Venezuela in sequence. This is the struggle of all the people of Latin America, the Venezuelan people…against north American imperialism and their policy of division against the policy of unity being formed by leaders of the revolutionary processes of the continent like presidents Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez. This is why we are in solidarity with the great people of Bolivia.”
A recent poll by Equipos Mora showed that in Santa Cruz, 84% of the population say they will vote in the referendum, with 76% in favour of the autonomy statutes. However, the results will not be monitored or verified by any international observers.

Another survey this week by private polling firm Apoyo indicated that Morales counts with 54% popular support nationwide, the same percentage with which he won the December 2005 presidential elections. However, the survey also showed the regional polarization, with support for Morales surging to 75% in La Paz, but only 25% in Santa Cruz.

According to the poll only 15% of the population has actually read the autonomy statutes to be voted on in the referendum.