Caracas, Venezuela, September 10, 2006—Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proposed the formation of a single united political party of the “Bolivarian Revolution” yesterday, to be formed in 2007, once he has won this year’s December Presidential elections. The announcement was made during yesterday’s swearing-in of Chavez’s electoral campaign batallones (battalions) and pelotones (platoons) in a massive march and rally of hundreds of thousands of Chavez supporters in Bolivar Avenue in Caracas. Opposition candidate Manuel Rosales also held a large demonstration in the state of Tachira, yesterday.
Chavez opened his three hour-long speech with a call for unity and for supporters to take advantage of the electoral period to further “consolidate and strengthen” the organization of the Bolivarian process.
In calling for unity, Chavez proposed the formation of single united political party, and although he said that he did not yet know what it would be called, he declared that it would be the “great party of the Bolivarian Revolution.” Chavez added that “it should represent the Republic and the revolution to the world and establish the strongest connections with the greatest revolutionary parties throughout the world.”
“Socialism was not dead it was asleep and the great socialist political parties will rise up again,” declared Chavez.
During his speech Chavez also called for “discipline, more discipline, revolutionary discipline” in this fall’s electoral campaign, and announced that they “are not playing games.”
|Chavez supporters rallied in the Avenida bolivar, one of Caracas' largest avenues.
Credit: Michael Fox
Chavez also reiterated his proposal for a referendum in 2010 to change the Venezuelan constitution to allow for unlimited re-election of the president. “I don’t have personal plans [for the Constitutional change], but the issue is in the streets,” announced Chavez, “The decision corresponds to the people… The decision would not be mine.”
The purpose of the yesterday’s rally was to officially inaugurate the campaign battalions of Chavez’ “Miranda” campaign, so named after Francisco de Miranda, one of Venezuela’s independence fighters, who launched the first battle for Venezuelan independence exactly 200 years ago.
“The central objective of this gathering is the swearing in of the commandos of battalions and of platoons, which are already set up throughout the country,” he said.
|Stage from which Chavez spoke (bottom right).
Credit: Gregory Wilpert
The Venezuelan president reminded the members of the electoral campaign that they are not really confronting the twenty plus presidential candidates, but rather North American imperialism.
“Don’t forget that this Miranda battle is truly confronting once again North American imperialism. That is our true contender and on December 3rd of this year we are going to deliver a new defeat to North American imperialism,” said Chavez.
Chavez spoke for sometime on the achievements of his government over the last seven years, and told the electoral battalions to use the numbers, the statistics, and the actualities to convince people of the right decision in this December’s elections.
According to Chavez, there are already 44,698 electoral platoons organized throughout the country and 11,358 campaign battalions—one for each voting center. Each battalion is composed of six members organized in to a director, and a coordinator of mobilization, electoral issues, security, logistics, measurement and control. There is one platoon for each voting table, which reports to the electoral battalion for the corresponding voting center.
“I’m sure you already know this,” said Chavez from the stage, “because the battalions are already set up, but nevertheless—44,698 platoons—there should be one platoon for every voting table, each platoon should form part of a battalion, which is the command that corresponds to the voting electoral center, and the command of the platoon is also set up by six people, with the same positions [as the battalion].”
According to Jose Gregorio Sanchez, head of a battalion in the Parish of Juan Jose Mora, in the state of Carabobo, the goal of the battalions and platoons is to mobilize people from each voting table to get out and vote. The platoons themselves do not, however, have access to the voting centers. Sanchez explained at the march, that the goal for every battalion or platoon member is to bring in ten people to vote in support of President Chavez.
“We work from the bases, that’s the community, that’s how we form the platoons and battalions,” said Sanchez, who worked with most of those in his battalion to support Chavez in the 2004 Referendum against the president. “We work in the communities, knocking on doors from one house to the next.”
“We are super happy,” said Sanchez staring out at the sea of Chavez supporters, “and as you see, this is a long road here, Bolivar Avenue, in Caracas, and we are shooting for 10 million votes, this is going to be an overwhelming victory and we are going to crush Manuel Rosales.”
The Rosales Rally
Manuel Rosales also held a large rally yesterday in the city of San Cristobal in Venezuela’s Tachira state, which was re-televised tonight on the state channel VTV. He spoke on various topics, and promised to eliminate poverty and violence in Venezuela, if elected. “As of next year we will be working towards the development, modernity and progress in the country!” called Rosales
Rosales also spoke on the topics of Chavez, international relations, terrorism, housing, poverty and the distribution of riches. The Rosales campaign has been proposing a program to combat poverty in Venezuela, whereby, if elected, every family below the poverty line would receive a debit card worth $300 or more a month in order to cover basic necessities.
Rosales additionally announced that while he is not going to be a puppet for George Bush and the United States, he is also not going to continue with to support Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Referring to Chavez, Rosales stated, “The candidate knows that I have already defeated him in Zulia and now I am going to defeat him in Venezuela.”