Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela Holds First Meetings

This past Saturday a second round of neighborhood meetings were held to begin the consultation process for the launching of the soon to be formed Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Meetings got off to a slow start, but with much enthusiasm.

Caracas, July 30, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— This past Saturday a second round of neighborhood meetings were held to begin the consultation process for the launching of the soon to be formed Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Meetings got off to a slow start, but with much enthusiasm.

To find out the location of nearest assembly, those who had registered for the new party last May, could check the Venezuelan daily Ultimas Noticias or received a phone call or cell phone text message with the location. While meetings were scheduled to begin at 2pm, they generally did not get underway until three.

The neighborhood assemblies of the PSUV are to make up the “battalions” of up to 300 members in any given neighborhood, which will meet on a weekly basis for at least three weeks in a row. During these meetings participants are to discuss the structure and ideals of the new party. They then elect spokespersons for the national party congress that is to be held in August or September.

Orlando Rivas, a community activist at one of the assemblies in the Caracas barrio of Catia, explained that while 5.7 million Venezuelans, in a show of support for Chavez, have signed up as aspirants to join the new party, “the layer of militants is always much smaller than the mass. Not all of these people will be members of the new party.”

Soccorro Hernandez, who is the new president of Venezuela’s recently nationalized telephone company CANTV and who presided over the meeting for the neighborhood of La Florida, said that some might have joined because they are hoping membership allows them to acquire or keep a government job. However, she clarified, this is not the purpose of the new party.

Gonzalo Gomez, an editor of the website www.aporrea.org and long time socialist militant, presided over a meeting in the Caracas neighborhood of Catia and gave a short introduction explaining the process of the formation of PSUV, the formation of “battalions,” the elections of delegates to a founding congress and then encouraged everyone to participate in the discussion about what is socialism, what is Bolivarianism and “how we can transform Venezuela.”

Most assemblies then proceeded to show two videos, the first a short presentation by Hugo Avila on socialism, democracy, and participation, the second a longer presentation by Luis Bilbao editor of the magazine America XXI, about the capitalist economy and the transition to a socialist economy. Bilbao’s presentation involved an explanation of the labor theory of value, and the nature of imperialism, why a countries like Switzerland or England for example, with little natural resources have a lot of wealth, and why countries like Venezuela, extremely rich in natural resources have so much poverty.

Assemblies then broke up into smaller groups of around 30 to discuss the functioning of the battalions, such as the norms governing discussions and the election of spokespersons and other related ideas. This was followed with a general discussion on the ideals of socialism, which ranged from the need to build socialism from a local point of view, to the broader question of the socialist transformation of Venezuela.

People spoke about the problems of capitalism in the context of their daily lives, the price of food, the problems of rubbish, the environment, and how to strengthen the local health and education committees and the need to build solidarity with the ‘social economy’

Manuel Salceno, a health worker who spoke of building a “new ethics, new morals” also said, “Solidarity is our first reference. We are individuals, but we see the division of classes that exists in this country that they try to hide from us.”

“What is the model for this country capitalism or socialism? The people must decide from below. We need to put forward the proposals that can transform our country”

“We need to work out the collective form that is necessary for the struggle, we need one united party, not PPT or Podemos over there, we need to move forward with the party we a constructing.”

Melba Solis, another promoter, said that this first meeting was an opportunity for people to talk about socialism “in their own words,” therefore many people spoke things that were affecting them in their local community, the price of rice, the problem of rubbish etc, “They are not all Marxist- Leninist” she explained, “This process of forming the new PSUV is really about uniting all the militants in the communities into one party”

The groups then came back together for a final session to hear report backs from all the different discussions. People left the meeting energized, promising to bring more to the next meeting.

President Chavez told viewers during his weekly television program Alo Presidente that 80% of the battalion assemblies that had been planned for Caracas and 12 other states on Saturday took place. In Caracas—the only city where this was a second meeting—an average of 103 persons attended each of these. In the rest of the country participation averaged 70 to 80 participants, much as during the first meeting in Caracas.

“Enough of parties, of little parties, of regional conflicts. We will all unite, which is a necessity to guarantee that all of [our] projects continue to proceed,” said Chavez.