Chavez Consolidates United Socialist Party of Venezuela by Naming Party Vice-Presidents

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez moved to consolidate the formation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on Friday by appointing a total of nine territorial vice-presidents and seven national commissions for the new party.

Caracas, March 24, 2008 ( – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez moved to consolidate the formation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on Friday by appointing a total of nine territorial vice-presidents and seven national commissions for the new party. It is necessary to strengthen the PSUV in order to defend and deepen the Bolivarian revolution, as the process of radical change underway in Venezuela is known, the head of state explained.

Earlier, during a swearing in ceremony of the recently elected national leadership of the PSUV, Chavez warned that the new party must be ready to fight against U.S imperialism, "the Imperial plan is to overthrow this government and remove this Bolivarian Revolution, this is the reason for their permanent aggression against us" he said.

A strategic battle facing the PSUV is the upcoming regional elections for governors and mayors, Chavez pointed out. "The Venezuelan bourgeoisie is connected to the U.S. Empire. One of their plans is to weaken us through the electoral path, as a way to try overthrow us at the end of the year's regional elections in November," said Chavez.

Therefore, a new party must be more than simply an electoral party, Chavez declared. "The PSUV must emerge for the battle as a political party in a revolutionary situation."

As part of the process of consolidating the new party, PSUV vice-president Alberto Müller Rojas said there was a debate in the national executive over whether to apply the concept of "radical geography" to the territorial structure of the new party or to build the party parallel to existing structures of the Venezuelan state.

The nine territorial vice-presidents and seven commissions proposed by national executive of the PSUV "within the framework of the idea of new geometry of power" were the result of this debate he explained.

The territorial vice-presidents would direct the work of the PSUV at a regional level, taking into account regional inequalities, Müller Rojas added.  "The point is to try and equalize the levels of development of the communities."

Among the new vice-presidents are former Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas, as vice-president for the states of Zulia and Falcon, (also charged with heading up the new finance commission of the party); National Assembly Deputy Carlos Escarrá, appointed as vice-president for Aragua and Carabobo, and Aristóbulo Istúriz, named as vice-president for the Capital District and the states of Miranda and Vargas.

Two vice-presidents were also appointed for the central plains region – governor of Portuguesa, Antonia Muñoz, and Education Minister, Adán Chávez.

The Governor of Lara, Luis Reyes Reyes, was appointed vice-president for the center-west region of the country and Ambassador to Cuba Alí Rodríguez Araque, for the Andean region.

María Cristina Iglesias was named as vice-president of the party in the east of the country and the governor of Delta Amacuro, Yelitza Santaella, was appointed for her home state as well as the states of Bolivar and Amazonas.

Apart from Santaella, all of the vice-presidents were drawn from the fifteen principal delegates and fifteen substitute delegates elected on March 10 to the PSUV national executive. As is the case with the fifteen principal delegates of the national executive, the so-called ‘traditional' or moderate left constitutes the majority of territorial vice presidents.

In addition to the national finance commission, six other commissions were created; a commission for international affairs headed by Nohelí Pocaterra, a commission for social movements/popular power (Héctor Rodríguez), an events commission (Darío Vivas), a commission for ideology (Alí Rodríguez Araque), a commission to oversee the party-government relationship (Ramón Rodríguez Chacín), and a commission for communication and information (Vanessa Davies).

Jorge Rodriguez, former Venezuelan vice-president and ex-national coordinator of the PSUV in its formative stages, was also appointed National Director of Political Organization.

Müller Rojas said the next step for the party was to develop organic links between the regional leaderships, the national commissions, and the local leaderships that already exist in the grassroots "socialist battalions" and the "socialist circumscriptions" (groups of 7-12 battalions), through the formation of a "political team" for each region drawn from the socialist circumscriptions.

He also announced that the PSUV would enter into formal discussions this week with other political parties, including Homeland for All (PPT), the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), and the Electoral Movement of the People (MEP) in order to form a Polo Patriotico (Patriotic Pole) or alliance for the regional elections.

The PSUV is considering various methods, such as running primaries or using an internal polling system in order to select candidates for the regional elections. While the issue has not been resolved "the grassroots will be consulted," he assured.
Müller Rojas also warned that those who prematurely launch themselves as PSUV candidates without the approval of the grassroots would "lose the respect of the party in their aspirations… we want to avoid personal currents.

José Albornoz, the General Secretary of the PPT, pressured the PSUV to move forward this week, saying, "It is necessary to inform the country what we a re going to do. This is a decisive week and it is necessary to begin to define some things, among those if we are going to form the alliance or not."

Albornoz argued that the PSUV should clarify its mechanism for selecting candidates and design a methodology that allows the inclusion of other political forces.

The PPT's preferred method of selecting candidates for an electoral alliance is consensus, Albornoz stated. "What is important is the quality of the candidate, not the quantity," he asserted.

On the other hand, Edgar Lucena, head of the PCV fraction in the National Assembly, reaffirmed his support for the formation of a Broad Front or Polo Patriotico, which he said should develop policies for the whole country and form an electoral alliance, but should not be limited purely to the electoral sphere.

Lucena stressed that it was necessary that candidates come from the heart of the communities and indicated his support for the process of carrying out primaries in order to choose candidates for the alliance. He said the PCV does not have objections to candidates from the PSUV and PPT as long as they have popular support.