Mérida, May 1, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) expelled four prominent members who launched their candidacies for the upcoming state and local elections without being selected according to party rules, PSUV Vice President Alberto Müller Rojas announced Tuesday.
President Hugo Chávez had declared April 19th, during the swearing-in ceremony of the state-level party officials, “it does not matter if [the candidate] is ahead in all the polls. I would rather lose the governorship than have an undisciplined governor. We all must submit ourselves to the internal norms of the party, and those who do not should be expelled.”
Those expelled Tuesday were Henry Falcón, mayor of Barquisimeto and candidate for Lara state governor; Luis Díaz Salazar, legislator and candidate for governor of Monagas; Wilmer Pérez, legislator and candidate for mayor of Barinas; and Wilmer Azuaje, legislator and candidate for governor in Chávez’s home state of Barinas.
Mayor Falcón described his expulsion from the party as an “error” that will “remain on the conscience” of those who committed it. He emphasized his years of service to the struggle and the “importance of the commitment of true revolutionaries.”
The mayor assured that he will never become an opposition candidate, and will now continue his campaign for governor of Lara on the ticket of the For Social Democracy Party (PODEMOS).
“I wish to reiterate our esteem and respect for President Chávez… yesterday, today, and always,” Falcón vowed before his municipal legislature Wednesday.
Díaz, upon learning of his expulsion, said he “saw it coming” because he has been “very critical of the process of electing PSUV authorities.” Whereas elections should be open to all, the PSUV is “the only party in which someone who has aspirations is expelled,” Díaz asserted.
Díaz and Pérez will now join party dissident Luis Tascón, who announced his candidacy for mayor of Caracas early last week, to initiate a new parliamentary faction outside the PSUV.
The legislators may also join Tascón in founding a new political party. Tascón confirmed this week that he has consulted with the National Electoral Council about the party, and that potential names discussed so far have been New Revolutionary Path, Popular Revolutionary Movement, and New Revolutionary Life.
Tascón’s party membership ended after he denounced corruption in the Infrastructure Ministry under the management of José David Cabello in mid-February without immediately presenting evidence.
Many considered Tascón’s accusations unfounded. The legislator was deemed an “instrument of imperialism” by Cabello’s brother, Miranda Governor Diosdado Cabello, and Chávez expressed that Tascón exhibited “indiscipline and irresponsibility”.
Similarly, Azuaje had sparked controversy in late March when he accused President Chávez`s brothers, Argenis and Narciso Chávez, of using front persons to illicitly purchase farms in the state of Barinas.
At that time, Azuaje had already launched his gubernatorial campaign. Argenis Chávez commented that Azuaje`s behavior showed “lack of discipline” and that the legislator should be expelled from the PSUV, a suggestion that became reality Tuesday.
Mario Isea, who heads up the United Socialist Parlamentary Block, told the press Monday that in the National Assembly all political opinions are respected, but within the PSUV there must be a disciplined commitment to party line militancy.
“We assume this discipline in a voluntary manner. The people who are not willing to assume a party line cannot be militants in socialist revolutionary organizations like ours,” Isea affirmed.
The PSUV has not yet chosen candidates for the state and local elections, which are scheduled for November 23. Several party officials say the methodology for selecting candidates is still being discussed.
According to Isea, potential PSUV candidates must have a “proposal for transformation” that responds directly to the communal problems reported by local battalions in the communities where the candidates hope to be elected.
“Our candidates will have to have a profile that is ethical, clear, and well-informed ideologically, and a political commitment according to which they will not be able to betray the People nor the party,” the legislator postulated.
To help candidates respond to communities, local PSUV battalions began preparing diagnostic reports of their communities’ problems last week, according to PSUV Regional Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz.
These reports will form the basis of the party platform in each region of the country after being discussed with the regional vice presidents of the party and mutually approved with the communities. These regional work plans will be concluded by May 15th, Istúriz explained.
In related news, President Chávez replaced his brother Adán Chávez with Hector Navarro as Education Minister. Navarro had been the Minister of Education, Culture, and Sports when Chávez first took office in 1998. Chávez said the move was so his brother could focus entirely on heading up the PSUV in the states of Barinas and Apure.