Chavez: Parties that don’t Join Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela are Free to Leave

Venting his frustration about his coalition partners’ reluctance to join a new unified socialist party, Chavez said yesterday that those who don’t join “may leave.” Representatives from the three largest parties that are part of Chavez’s coalition have said, though, that they are not interested in leaving the coalition.

By Gregory Wilpert – Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, March 19, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venting his frustration about his coalition partners’ reluctance to join a new unified socialist party, Chavez said yesterday that those who don’t join “may leave.” Representatives from the three largest parties that are part of Chavez’s coalition have said, though, that they are not interested in leaving the coalition.

Chavez made his remarks during his television program Alo Presidente, which took place on Sunday, back on its original schedule, before it had been moved to weekday evenings.

Referring to the reluctance of his three largest coalition partners, PPT (Fatherland For All), Podemos (We Can), and PCV (Communist Party of Venezuela), to join the newly forming United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Chavez said, “If they want to leave, they may do so. They are not indispensable.” “For me, they are almost in the opposition,” he added.

Last December, shortly after his reelection, Chavez had announced that he wanted all the 24 parties that support him and his government’s project to merge into a single newly created party and that this new party would be the most democratic party in the history of Venezuela. Last week Chavez named a commission with representatives from several different parties to launch the organization of the new party formation.

Chavez’s own MVR party (Movement for a fifth Republic) and several smaller parties that received less than 1% popular support in the last presidential election have already announced their dissolution so that their members can join the new party.

However, leaders from the three largest pro-Chavez coalition parties stated that their respective parties had decided to wait and see whether to join the new party Chavez had called for, arguing that they did not want to join a party that did not yet have a political program. Also, some were critical of how the commission that is organizing the new party was set up, saying that it lacked transparency.

The General Secretary of Podemos, Ismael Garcia, used strong language when he explained the decision of his party to wait and see, saying that his party did not want to support a “single line of thinking” and that the new party had to be as diverse in political views as the pro-Chavez coalition currently is.

Chavez reacted angrily to Garcia’s speech, saying, “I have concluded that at least their spokespersons do not want to incorporate themselves in the effort to construct the PSUV. Fine! That is their right! But leave us in peace to construct our great party and they continue on their path. Do not start throwing stones our way.”

Chavez went on to say, “I have heard them say that they share the [ideal of] socialism, but the democratic one. Which? … The socialism Hugo Chavez is proposing is of course democratic. Aha, so then you want to satanize me, so as to justify your withdrawal! This does not seem noble to me.”

Today, the general secretaries of all three parties that Chavez mentioned responded to Chavez’s talk, saying that none of their parties had any intention of joining the opposition.

PCV General Secretary Oscar Figuera said, “The comrades of the PCV I know will never follow the opposition … You will never see the Communist Party in the opposition. You will always see them accompanying the leader of the process: President Hugo Chavez Frías.”

Figuera also said that the PCV might support the formation of the PSUV by being involved in the discussions leading up to the formation of the new party without dissolving the PCV. That way they would be able to contribute their ideas while still waiting to see the outcome before making a final decision to dissolve the party.

PPT General Secretary José Albornoz also commented on the controversy today, saying that the PPT is not interested in getting involved in a polemic with the President. “This is not a problem of definition,” said Albornoz in a press conference today, “We are revolutionaries and we have demonstrated this in our political actions.”

In an interview that appeared today in the oppositional daily Tal Qual, Podemos General Secretary Ismael Garcia insisted that he had been misinterpreted with regard to his comments about the formation of the PSUV.

“We [in Podemos] are not denying the leadership of Chavez. It is blackmail to make it look like if I say something different I am not recognizing the leadership of the President,” said Garcia. “There cannot be among us the discomfort that when someone says something different [from the president], I’m going to say that this is a CIA agent, that he is a right-winger.”

Garcia reiterated that he “respects, values, and supports the leadership of President Chavez.” But he also emphasized that he also values pluralism of thought and that just because he criticizes some aspect of Chavez’s ideas does not mean that he will join the opposition. “Those who left the government did not propose their problems within, but left,” said Garcia.

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