Mérida, July 10, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– At a meeting of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez criticized allies in the Patriotic Alliance – a coalition of political parties which support the “Bolivarian Revolution” led by Chávez – for supporting candidates in the upcoming regional and local elections who will compete with PSUV candidates.
After the PSUV’s unprecedented internal party elections last month, in which 2.5 million party members participated, PSUV leaders offered to negotiate candidates with other Patriotic Alliance members in regions where no candidate won a clear majority.
So far, the allied parties have agreed to support the majority of the PSUV candidates, but competing candidacies have been launched by the Homeland for All (PPT) and Communist (PCV) parties in several key states.
In central Guárico state, the president of the state legislature, Lenny Manuitt, launched an independent candidacy for governor after losing to Willian Lara in the PSUV internal elections.
Manuitt is the daughter of current Governor Eduardo Manuitt, who has been expelled from the PSUV and is identified with the right wing of the pro-Chávez alliance because of his support for big landowners against the national government’s land reform program.
In an apparent demonstration of support for Lenny Manuitt, the PPT candidate, General Secretary of the party José Albornoz, ceded his candidacy for the governorship.
“The PPT in Guárico is supporting the counter-revolution,” Chávez proclaimed Wednesday. “It is very difficult to make an alliance like this,” he added.
By PSUV party rules, if no candidate received more than 50% of the votes in the nomination elections, the party directorate would select the candidate among the top three contenders. In Trujillo state, the PSUV leadership selected Hugo Cabezas, who had received 24% of the vote compared to Octaviano Mejías`s 27.7%. In defiance, Mejías launched an independent candidacy with support from the PCV.
Chávez declared Wednesday that the PCV is “playing into the division of the People” by not observing PSUV party rules.
The president also criticized the PCV for convoking a march in opposition to the visit of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to Venezuela this Friday, during which Chávez and Uribe are expected to renew diplomatic relations after many months of heated clashes.
In its communiqué calling for the march, the PCV emphasized its “firm conviction in the Bolivarian Revolutionary Process and the indisputable leadership of President Hugo Chávez Frías,” but called Uribe “an illegitimate president linked, moreover, to the drug trafficking mafia.”
Chávez, in response, asserted that “we are not going to make war with Colombia. I invited President of Colombia to shake his hand, to converse and seek integration, respecting particularities… I am a chief of state, and I must act like it.”
Chávez warned the PCV not to be “more pro-Pope than the Pope,” and asked the PCV to support this imperfect compromise with the U.S.’s chief ally in South America.
Despite these clashes within the Patriotic Alliance, Chávez and other PSUV leaders continue to encourage dialogue among the allied parties, lest the alliance be weakened before the elections which Chávez has deemed “the most important in Venezuelan history” because of the possibility of a destabilizing separatist movement in the resource-rich western states if the opposition takes control.
“We must be very patient,” Chávez told PSUV activists Wednesday.
Likewise, PSUV spokesperson Rodrigo Cabezas assured earlier this week that, while there are differences, “there is no rupture in the alliance.”
Jorge Rodríguez, the National PSUV Director and candidate for the largest Caracas district of Libertador, reiterated, “We prefer to discuss, face to face, with our allies, come to agreements and have disagreements face to face.”
Even so, the executive Vice President of the PSUV, Alberto Muller Rojas, suggested last week that if the PPT continues to support “undisciplined” candidates like Manuitt, then perhaps it is not in line with the “interests” of the alliance. “The PPT is not the alliance, PODEMOS [the Social Democracy party] left the alliance, and any other party can leave,” stated Rojas, who himself belong to the PPT until recently.
PPT National Secretary Rafael Uzcátegui assured Wednesday that the PPT will remain a member, although he said the alliance is “not perfect” because the PSUV “has not supported any candidate other than its own candidates, not even an independent.”
President Chávez said last week that the clashes within the Patriotic Alliance are “not personal, but ideological.” The president suggested that candidates such as Manuitt lack “revolutionary conscience,” and need ideological training.
“I need the governors to be true revolutionaries,” Chávez emphasized. “I am a true revolutionary and I am willing to die for what I have sworn to the People of Venezuela the People of Bolívar,” he said.