Chavez Sets Out Strategic Lines of Debate to PSUV Congress

During an inaugural speech to the First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on November 21, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez raised a series of proposals to open the debate over consolidating the struggle for socialism both internationally and in Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez addresses PSUV Congress (YVKE)

Caracas, November 23rd 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, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez raised a series of proposals and orientations 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 for an 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 realize 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 organization 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 structure 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,” and manifested that “all of these infiltrations are a product of the capitalist sectors that aim to neutralize and put a brake on the revolutionary movement.”

The Party

The president 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 emphasized 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,” he said.

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 defense of socialism against growing U.S. militarization 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.