Controversy Over Venezuelan Legislator’s Supposed Expulsion from Party Continues

Venezuelan National Assembly Deputy Luis Tascón said on Monday that he would solicit his right to defense before the founding congress of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), in order to present his version of the events.
National Assembly member Luis asks for the right to defend himself in the face of a possible exclusion from the party. (VTV)

Caracas, February 18, 2008 ( – Venezuelan National Assembly Deputy Luis Tascón said on Monday that he would solicit his right to defense before the founding congress of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), in order to present his version of the events that led to his alleged expulsion from the PSUV. Despite the announcement by PSUV national coordinator, Jorge Rodriguez and governor of Miranda Diosdado Cabello on VTV on Saturday that he had been "unanimously" expelled, Tascón assures that he has not been expelled.

Tascón's alleged "expulsion" occurred in the context of a dispute that erupted last week between Tascón and Cabello after the leftist deputy from Tachira denounced irregularities in the Ministry of Infrastructure under the management of José David Cabello, (now head of Venezuela's tax collection office -SENIAT, and brother of Diosdado).

Diosdado Cabello responded claiming Tascón was "an instrument of imperialism," and Tascón in turn, described Cabello the "chief of the endogenous right-wing," of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution.

National Assembly President Cilia Flores also intervened, arguing Tascón had "self-excluded" himself from the PSUV by failing to provide evidence to back up his allegations and "exposing the ex-Minister Cabello to public ridicule."

Tascón then challenged those seeking his expulsion to make a motion to that effect democratically in the founding congress of the PSUV.

During a speech to the PSUV congress on Saturday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for unity and insisted that aspiring members of the PSUV not get "carried away by individualism," because "the future of the homeland depends on unity."

However, later in a closed session, Chavez classified Tascón's actions as "irresponsible" and questioned his relations with some sections of the media, saying Tascón had presented his denunciations to "coup-plotting media."

"No revolutionary should give arms to the opposition," he said.

Chavez then called for Tascón to be expelled from the PSUV saying, "He can go to hell, we don't want him in this party," according to the February 18 edition of Ultimas Noticias.

While various newspaper reports alleged that delegates responded with acclamation and cries of "expel him, expel him,' a source from within the congress indicated that this was not true and that many delegates remained silent.

Rodriguez and Cabello then claimed in a special edition of the television program Dando y Dando on state TV on Saturday night that Tascón had been expelled "unanimously" because his "inappropriate" denunciation of the former Infrastructure Minister.

However, Tascón said the declarations made by Cabello and Rodriguez on Saturday night were false the daily El Nacional reported today. "What Cabello and Rodriguez said is not true, there was no vote on this issue on Saturday in the founding congress," Tascón affirmed.

Tascón added that what occurred on Saturday was that Chavez solicited his expulsion, but that this request was not discussed until Sunday.

Iris Valera, a National Assembly deputy, also from Tachira and politically aligned with Tascón, told El Universal,  "I wasn't at the Teresa Carreño Theater [where the fourth assembly of the PSUV congress was being held], but I have spoken with people that were there and they told me that there was a proposal to expel Tascón, but no decision was taken."

An anonymous delegate to the founding congress, told that the issue had been discussed in round tables on Sunday, however, many of the delegates were clearly opposed and uncomfortable with the discussion. The claim that Tascón had been expelled was "completely false" the source confirmed, "There was no unanimity and at NO time did the congress vote to expel Tascón."

For Valera, the situation of Tascón, as well as the disciplinary measures taken in August last year against National Assembly member Francisco Ameliach, (who was removed from his position as head of the Socialist Bloc in parliament after suggesting Chavez's old party, the MVR, be revived), signal a "bad start" for the new party.

"How can someone be expelled from a party that hasn't even been formed?" Valera questioned.

In a letter circulated to the PSUV congress on Sunday, Tascón said, "Cabello and Rodriguez have kidnapped and suffocated the democratic and revolutionary will of the militancy of the PSUV in order to carry out a revenge attack against me, because I denounced presumed acts of corruption before the parliamentary Comptroller's Commission."

"I've suffered expulsion carried out by a party elite, of a party that hasn't even been founded," he added.

Tascón also reproached Chavez, who he considered had been misinformed, "I believe that he is mistaken because he did not call me to ask what my denunciation was based on."

Tascón pointed out that on Wednesday Chavez had made a call for people to "criticize the government, criticize Chavez, criticize the ministers," in order to make public institutions function with more transparency and efficiency.

Tascón also questioned the decision of Flores to remove Julio Moreno; president of the Comptroller Commission in the National Assembly saying it "de-legitimates the role of Parliament."

In a telephone interview with Union Radio, Monday, National Assembly Deputy Carlos Escarrá assured that Tascón, "still has not been expelled because this requires a procedure, that is to hear him, the right to defense."

"What happened is that there was a proposal to expel him, but this has not been concretized," Escarrá explained.

Escarrá argued that the problem was not that Tascón made the denunciation, rather it was they way he did it.

Tascón has indicated that he will continue pushing for an investigation into the alleged irregularities in the Infrastructure Ministry, saying, "Here, no one can be untouchable, none of us militants of the revolution."