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Chavez Urges Party for All-Out Campaign for Venezuelan Constitutional Reform

Caracas, August 26, 2007 ( – Addressing thousands of members of the battalions of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), packed into the Poliedro Stadium in Caracas on Saturday, President Hugo Chavez called for an offensive to guarantee the approval in the national referendum of his project of constitutional reforms, which he says are necessary to guarantee the transition to socialism in Venezuela.

“We are going to pulverize the opposition in the referendum,” he declared, and “I propose that after we approve them [the constitutional reforms], the book of the Constitution is converted from blue to red, the red book.”

Chavez also announced that after discussions with the Military High Command, he was incorporating a number of changes into his proposal, which would continue to recognize the National Guard, (to be renamed the Bolivarian National Guard), after it had been argued that his original proposal would allow for its abolition, through incorporation into the other bodies of the Armed Forces. The Reserves would be renamed as the Bolivarian National Militia, as opposed to the Bolivarian Popular Militia in his original proposal. In addition he said he was in discussion with some governors that had slight differences over his proposed geographical redistribution of power.

Chavez said that although under the current constitution the National Assembly could separate the reforms to be voted on article by article in the referendum, he was calling for his proposal be voted on block as it was an “integral proposal” for the transition of Venezuela towards socialism.

As he outlined his ideas for the construction of the new party, Chavez argued the project of constitutional reform would provide, “the fuel for the political and ideological debate in the battalions [of the PSUV].”

Acknowledging that of the 5.8 million people that had signed up to be members of the PSUV only approximately 1.5 million have participated in the socialist battalions, Chavez said, “We were sure that when we commenced the second stage of the process all these people that registered were not going to participate, for logical reasons – there are people that work on Saturdays, others that have family commitments and others that don’t have the sufficient level of commitment to be an activist. It’s natural that this is so.”

In this sense he proposed to organize the new party in “concentric circles” of full members and non-full members. The different levels of membership he assured did not imply a hierarchy, but reflected different levels of time dedicated to the party, with different levels of rights and obligations. “Full members must have the time to carry out the political tasks of the party and convert themselves into disseminators and organizers, and they must be a revolutionary example,” he continued.

In the internal life of the party Chavez called for “irreverence in discussion and loyalty in action.” He also announced the creation of a Provisional Discipline Committee of the PSUV, headed by former vice-president Diosdado Cabello, and referred to a case of an aspirant whose conduct he said, was contrary to the formation of the PSUV.

According to confidential sources quoted in Diario VEA (August 26), Deputy Francisco Ameliach, leader of the “socialist block” in parliament, was the aspirant who was called to report to the discipline committee. Earlier in the week Ameliach had alluded to the possibility of resurrecting the Movement for a Fifth Republic (MVR – the largest pro-Chavez party that dissolved earlier this year to become part of the PSUV) for the regional elections of governors in 2008, if the formation of the PSUV had not been completed. Chavez also affirmed that unlike the MVR, all PSUV candidates for local, regional and national elections would be democratically chosen from the base.

Venezuelan vice-president and coordinator of the National Promoters Commission of the PSUV, Jorge Rodriguez, assured that the new party would be formed by November. The elections for spokespeople to the founding congress of the PSUV, which were postponed in August to prioritize discussion of the constitutional reforms, have been rescheduled for mid September, “After we have elected them [the spokespeople], we hope to install the Founding Congress in October, so that by November we have completely formed the structure of the biggest party in the history of America,” Rodriguez clarified.

Rodriguez also said that Chavez would be traveling throughout the country to facilitate, “the process [of formation] of the assemblies and battalions and also in the discussion of the constitutional reform.”

Chavez also stressed the internationalist character of the PSUV and called for a new International of left parties, saying “2008 could be a good time to convoke a meeting of left parties in Latin America to organize a new International, an organization of parties and movements of the left in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“There is a resurgence of consciousness of the people and we must continue building the movements and leaders of a new left, of a new project,” he added.

Published on Aug 27th 2007 at 8.48am