January 6, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez started up his usual Sunday TV and radio program Aló Presidente again yesterday for the first time in more than 2 months, announcing that 2008 will be the year of the three R's; review, rectify, and re-advance.
"This will be the year of the three R's," were the Venezuelan president's first words upon starting his show after a two-month break for the holidays and for December's constitutional reform referendum. The show took place in the city of Charallave, about 30 miles south of Caracas, where Chavez inaugurated the Ezequiel Zamora Center for Socialist Education.
The socialist center, with a capacity for about 5,000 students a year, will serve as a place where community leaders and members of the communal councils from all over the country can receive the necessary education and training to strengthen these community organizations. The communal councils play a central role in the political and economic model proposed by the Chavez government.
The new socialist center is one of 32 of these around the country that are being used in the government's socialist education campaign "Lights and Morals." Students from the communal councils study a wide range of areas ranging from revolutionary thought, and socialist planning, to communal administration and accounting.
"Only the people will build the new homeland… Lights and Morals should be the pillars of a Republic. That is the key to saving the world," said Chavez, in reference to a saying by independence hero Simon Bolivar, who coined the phrase "Lights and Morals" in reference to the need for leaders who are intelligent and ethical.
And in the spirit of the three R's, review, rectify, and re-advance, the president announced his newly reorganized cabinet of ministers, which included many new faces, and a reshuffling of some old ones. Chavez announced the new line-up of ministers last Thursday on a TV show, but formally presented the cabinet to the public yesterday.
He emphasized that in 2008 his government would "review and reevaluate everything" in order to improve general administration and day-to-day governing, and he called on his new cabinet to work to fight some of the biggest problems of the country such as crime and corruption.
"Crime, insecurity, corruption; these are evils that we have inherited, but we have to start putting a stop to them, and not let them keep growing," said Chavez. "If we don't stop them they will turn into the biggest enemies of our revolution."
The turn towards reflection and review comes in the wake of the national referendum for a constitutional reform that was voted down last month. Chavez discussed the loss yesterday, taking full responsibility for it, and lamented the lost opportunity to make several changes to the constitution that he deemed important.
He mentioned the five "motors" of the revolution, his plan to move the country towards so-called 21st Century Socialism, and insisted that his government would continue to move forward with the plan, but lamented that many changes would not be possible due to the failed constitutional reform.
"We can't move forward with them because they depended on the constitutional reform," he said, referring especially to the plan to reorganize the country's internal politico-territorial boundaries.
Chavez reminded his supporters that there will be elections across the country for governors and mayors in 2008, and that they must make sure to not lose any ground to the "counterrevolution."
"Let's get prepared, because at the end of the year there will be elections," he said. "The counterrevolution won't rest for a second trying to recover spaces. Imagine for a second if that happened," he warned.
In order to confront this threat, Chavez urged the consolidation of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which has yet to be officially formed. He announced that the founding congress of the new party will be held next Saturday, January 12th, and that former vice-president Jorge Rodriguez will now be dedicated to coordinating the PSUV as the head of the PSUV National Promotion Committee.
"I ask everyone to have the energy and will to have the new party that we need so much consolidated soon," he said.
"Now, more than ever, it is necessary to strengthen our unity, and have greater will and self-criticism so that the revolutionary process doesn't fail, and so we can leave our future generations a socialist homeland."