On May 21, more than 1000 people attended the Third National Seminar on Ideological Formation, organised by the Centres for Ideological Formation (CFIs). The CFIs are grassroots groups initiated in March this year by William Izarra, who has emerged as a key leader of the Bolivarian revolution — the popular process led by the government of President Hugo Chavez that is attempting to overturn capitalism and create a democratic socialist society.
Izarra is currently the national director of the CFIs and the deputy minister for foreign relations for the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. A veteran Marxist, Izarra was a leader of the revolutionary organisation that Chavez led inside the armed forces, the MBR-200, and when Chavez formed a new party, the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR), to contest the 1998 presidential elections, Izarra was the MVR’s first national director.
Elected to the National Congress (since replaced by the National Assembly) in 1999, he resigned his seat and left the MVR after disagreements with Chavez’s then-mentor, the moderate Luis Miquilena, who later joined the right-wing opposition. Izarra formed his own organisation, the Movement for Direct Democracy, which was dedicated to supporting Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution while promoting policies to put greater power directly in the hands of the people. Izarra’s return to the central leadership indicates the radical direction of the Bolivarian revolution.
On March 27, Vheadline posted a call from Izarra for the formation of CFIs across Venezuela, each to consist of at least 30 revolutionary militants. In the call, Izarra explained that the CFIs should hold daily discussions on theory to “invent the route which the revolution can travel along”. Izarra claimed that “the inherited reformist culture is present in almost all levels of the state, is still operating to exploit power and inspire corruption”, and argued that the CFIs were crucial to replacing this with a revolutionary culture.
The CFIs’ main objectives are: spreading the anti-capitalist ideology of the Bolivarian revolution; discussing how to form political organisations capable of making the ideology a reality; and the investigation of socialist theory.
Already the most conscious revolutionary activists have begun to register for the CFIs, which are not tied to any political party. All 1000 participants in the May 21 seminar, including many from the Bolivarian Houses, the Endogenous Battle Units (UBE) and other popular organisations, registered. The CFIs will be organised through local branches called Centres for Education and Investigation of the Bolivarian Revolution. A national office for the CFIs will also be established in the next few months.
As part of the May 21 seminar, Izarra also appealed to those present to join, or recruit to, a new diplomatic corps the government was creating. The existing diplomatic corps remains almost unchanged from the pre-Chavez days and the majority are either hostile to, or at least not active supporters of, the revolution. The government aims to train and dispatch more than 100 new embassy staff over the next few years.
Izarra told those present that “we need to continue to combat those that simply put on their red shirts and caps and call themselves Chavistas, but in fact do not have any revolutionary blood in them”, adding that “the structure of the state is still that of the [pre-Chavez] Fourth Republic, which means that the electoral structures hinder the participation of the people — this needs to be transformed so that the mayors are truly the spokespeople of the revolution and not controlling the people”.
Again emphasising the importance of developing a deep understanding of theory, Izarra recommeneded reading socialist theory and the works of the three key leaders of Venezuela’s independence struggle: Simon Bolivar, Simon Rodriquez and Ezequial Zamora.
Izarra noted three key areas where the revolution needed to develop: The need for increased democratisation of state structures to develop peoples participation in government; the development of the endogenous (or self sufficient) development model as an alternative to imperialist exploitation; and the need to develop a new system of international relations based on sovereignty and mutual respect.
Izarra argued strongly that there could not be a revolutionary process that excluded Hugo Chavez, criticising those who have argued that organising for a socialist revolution should be done outside the Chavista movement.
From Green Left Weekly, June 1, 2005.