Mérida, 15th March 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The governor of Monagas state in eastern Venezuela, Jose Gregorio “the Cat” Briceño, has been suspended from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and faces a disciplinary procedure which could possibly lead to his expulsion from the party.
According to a press statement read out by Venezuela’s Vice-President and vice-president of the PSUV (central region) Elias Jaua yesterday, the suspension is for “serious offenses against the revolution,” which together comprise “the violation of the ethical rules and behaviour of a PSUV member”.
The accusations of misconduct include making public criticisms of leading socialist party figures, attacking the “strategic lines” of the party, and ignoring internal party mechanisms to resolve differences.
On 12 March, Briceño was interviewed for opposition orientated TV station Globovision, where he accused President of the National Assembly and PSUV Vice-president, Diosdado Cabello, of seeking to place figures opposed to Briceño in the local PSUV in order to surround him with “a pack of dogs”. The Monagas governor further attacked PSUV Vice-president for the eastern region, Yelitza Santaella, as “an errand runner” for Cabello, who was interested in taking his position as governor.
In yesterday’s statement Jaua declared that “in a wilful and counterrevolutionary manner, Briceño incurred the offense of the party and ignored the mechanisms to clarify internal differences”.
He also rejected speculations made by opposition media sources on wider internal divisions within the PSUV, holding that they had broadcast Briceño’s declarations “as a banal argument to try and see an internal division where it doesn’t exist”.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez emitted via his twitter account that he “fully supports” the PSUV decision. “I think the governor Briceño arrived where he had to arrive,” he stated.
Yesterday, before the announcement of his suspension was made, governor Briceño said to press that there was no reason why he should be expelled from the PSUV. “I haven’t attacked the PSUV, in my declarations I referred to individual politicians that since 2008 have been trying to destroy me in order to take control of the governorship of Monagas” he argued.
He also said that he thought Chavez was being misled as to the political situation in Monagas.
Briceño stated he will wait until 4 August to announce whether he will run for re-election as governor. State governor elections will be held in December this year.
Fallout over Water Purity in Monagas
The governor also argued that another reason for his suspension from the PSUV was a disagreement between himself and PSUV figures in the government over the re-opening of the water treatment plant Bajo Guarapiche on the Guarapiche river, following an oil spill on 4 February.
Briceño maintains that the water in the Guarapiche river is not yet ready for distribution to the population, delaying the re-opening of the treatment plant. On 8 March he reported that traces of petroleum had been found after tests at the plant, and that “the river isn’t contaminated but the sediments of the river are”.
Meanwhile environment minister Alejandro Hitcher, speaking on state television VTV this morning, stated that “now the water is ready…we have the analysis,” while mentioning that 95% of the spilled crude had now been cleaned from the river.
The minister rejected the notion that an international analysis would be needed to examine the water, given that Venezuela has national experts and is complying with World Health Organisation parameters.
“If the governor of Monagas state and the [local] mayor continue wanting to create a crisis and not give the water, we are going to have to intervene in the [water treatment] plants,” he added.