Caracas, Venezuela, August 13, 2007 — The formation of the new Unifiedd Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), described by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as “a tool to guarantee the collective direction and continuity of the [Bolivarian] Revolution,” is well underway with most assemblies or “socialist battalions”, expected to elect their spokespeople next Saturday (August 18) for the founding congress of the new party. The founding congress, which will discuss the political program and statutes of the new party, is scheduled to begin in September and to conclude in December.
In a press statement on August 11, Venezuelan vice-president Jorge Rodríguez said, “There is a tremendous mobilisation throughout the whole country; twenty thousand promoters visiting house by house, convoking the people in the assemblies.”
“We have had more than one million six hundred thousand people every Saturday at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, discussing in their corresponding battalion.” Rodriguez assured that 80% of the battalions of the new party had been formed and had the required quorum of 100 people to elect delegates to the founding congress.
He added that through the process of organising the assemblies, the “socialist battalions” had begun to discuss “the statutes, programmatic base [of the PSUV], and concepts of socialism and internationalism.”
However, amidst reports of disorganisation and failure to meet quorum in many battalions, militants from the Caracas neighbourhood of 23 de Enero, including members of Chavez´s own battalion, have questioned the figures in the press statement of Rodriguez in an open letter to the National Promoters Commission of the PSUV.
“The figures in the press statement from the vice-presidency give as a result, in a manner exact and surprising, that ‘one million six hundred thousand’ aspirants are meeting all around the country and could elect the majority of the spokespeople as delegates to the founding congress, that is to say that the majority of these, “80% installed battalions,” have quorum. WE ARE SURE THIS IS NOT TRUE,” the letter continued.
Calling for the National Promoters Commission to verify the statement made by Rodriguez, the letter suggests that the process of electing spokespeople to the founding congress is being rushed and asks for an explanation of the methodology and quorum required to do it.
An earlier open letter from the same group in 23 de Enero argued that priority should be given to the consolidation of the battalions through successive growth, debate, recognition, and verification of the commitment of all of the aspirants. However, they argue emphasis is being placed on the search for the necessary quorum to elect the spokespeople; a quorum they say is not sustained by reality.
Rafael Hernández, an aspirant of the new party, warned of intentions to “kidnap this extremely important stage in the construction of the PSUV as a political instrument of the revolution,” an issue which Chavez, who has emphasized the necessity of forming the new party from below and not simply through agreements of the previously existing parties, has also alluded to.
To avoid this danger, Hernandez argued it was important for people to attend the meetings of the battalions and to study and to read the speeches of the president. “Remember,” he said, “this is an opportunity that we’ve never had before. Never have we been invited to create a party, this opportunity is unique, that is to say, we will be protagonists of the new political history of Venezuela.”
In order to consolidate the process of formation of the PSUV, the National Promoters Commission of the party has proposed a temporary financing plan, calling for party aspirants to contribute financially, ranging from 1,500 bolívares (US$0.46) to 50,000 bolívares (US$23) a month. The financing plan aims to collect resources for the process of formation, such as the constituent assembly of the PSUV scheduled for September.
Although the party has not yet been formally constituted, parliamentarians in the National Assembly are considering the formation of a parliamentary fraction of the PSUV. Roberto Hernández, vice-president of the National Assembly said that the possibility was being studied in various meetings held by the Chavez aligned, “block of change” in the parliament.
In addition to uniting the Bolivarian activists at a grass roots level, the PSUV also aims to unify more than twenty political parties and organisations of the left that support the Bolivarian Revolution lead by Chavez since 1999.