Entrenched PSUV elite hangs on

According to Silva, if there s no renewal, division and fragmentation will deepen


Cabello and Maduro have become Chávezism main points of reference (Miraflores press office)

Cabello and Maduro have become Chávezism main points of reference (Miraflores press office)

Saturday May 24, 2014  12:00 AM
On Sunday March 9, 2008 the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) top leaders were in for a big surprise from the results of the second degree election to choose the party’s national executive members.
The results left no one indifferent. Some regarded this as a rejection of President Chávez’s entourage. Others cheered the defeat of both the military wing and the much-loathed “endogenous right wing,” openly celebrating the triumph of the left wing over the party’s electoral machinery and worn-out “historic” party leaders.

Those receiving the highest number of votes were Aristóbulo Istúriz, Adán Chávez, Mario Silva, Jorge Rodríguez, Antonia Muñoz, Carlos Escarrá, Nohelí Pocaterra, Vanessa Davies, Cilia Flores, María León, Nicolás Maduro, Alí Rodríguez Araque, Héctor Rodríguez, Elías Jaua Milano, and Érika Farías.

The substitute delegates were María Cristina Iglesias, Diosdado Cabello, Héctor Navarro, Freddy Bernal, Luis Reyes Reyes, Jacqueline Faría, Rafael Ramírez, William Lara, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, Rodrigo Cabezas, Ana Elisa Osorio, Darío Vivas, Yelitza Santaella, Tarek El Aissami, and Alberto Müller Rojas.

Everything is to remain the same

Now the PSUV is convening its Third National Congress, to be held from July 26 through July 28. However, organizers have already reported that the party’s national authorities will not be renewed at this assembly.

“No election of a new board is slated. The congress will be ideological and programmatic in nature, mainly for discussion purposes,” Foreign Minister Elías Jaua said on February 7 in an interview with daily newspaper Últimas Noticias.

Article 26 of the so-called “Red Book” containing the PSUV statutes provides that the party’s national authorities “shall serve for a term of three years”. In choosing them different methods can be applied, such as direct, universal and secret election; co-option election; indirect election, or through opinion and consensus.

Late President Chávez used to reshuffle the party executive officers with a manu military move, without consulting party grassroots. In one such move he named Diosdado Cabello as first party vice president in late 2011, replacing Cilia Flores.

But so much has happened since 2008.  Carlos Escarrá, Alberto Müller Rojas and Willian Lara have died. Mario Silva and Vanessa Davies, well-known media figures back then, no longer appear daily in state-run TV channel Venezolana de Televisión (VTV). Some have lost their government posts and others have climbed the bureaucratic pyramid.

“Cabello has gained a great deal of clout within the party, but great influence is also wielded by governors and mayors who control their territories as personal fiefdoms,” said a PSUV deputy.

Every election involves competition. But, will indefinitely deferring a vote to renew the party’s national leadership prevent the differences within Chavismo from becoming apparent? “Indeed, the cure they have chosen – procrastinating both grassroots vote and renewal of the national authorities- seems likely to be worse than the infighting disease. If there s no renewal, division and fragmentation will deepen and this in turn will be more harmful,” says Jesus Silva, a political science professor at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas and a constitutional lawyer sympathetic to the revolution.

“There is no excuse not to hold such necessary grassroots consultation, as demanded by the grassroots of the party,” Silva says.

Article 67 of the Constitution promoted by Chavez states that governing organs of associations for political purposes and their candidates for offices filled by popular vote “shall be selected by internal elections with participation of their members.”

According to Silva, PSUV members should not try to hide their differences. “Some contradictions are necessary,” he adds.

Silva emphasizes the need to listen to the party s grassroots. “The expression of its members’ will is a political party’s raison d’etre. The current authorities’ terms of office have expired and the election of new party leaders should be included in the congress agenda,” he says.

Chávez picked and discarded names at will. He shielded his closest collaborators from grassroots attack. But now he is gone. According to Silva, the PSUV has to adapt to this new situation, opting for leaders capable of overcoming polarization, defeating violence and promoting a productive economy.

“This Congress faces many challenges. However, if it is to be meaningful, it must engage in a true democratic opening through the election of new authorities,” he says.

Translated by Sancho Araujo



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