Gil — There are many opportunist and right-wing tendencies that will continue to try to control the party. I think one of the things we have to do is organise ourselves to prevent the party from being kidnapped and ensure it remains a democratic party.
Gomez — There is a process that has opened up valuable democratic space, although with methodological vices, problems and dangers. But there is a discussion among the grassroots.
The fact that we are discussing the principles, program and statutes of the party — that we can put forward positions about the way in which we should elect our leadership and select candidates for elections — is very important.
Osorio — I view it with a lot of expectations, with hope. That’s not to say that I agree with everything that is occurring, but I think that the party will be cleansed through the course of the ideological debate and it will be strengthened — above all by strengthening a current within the PSUV that is truly socialist.
Sanchez — In the battalion in the barrio where I live, I remember in the first meetings people would come to blows over silly things — that someone looked at them in a funny way, that she did such and such. The level of experience of political organisation is very, very low.
Gil — The fundamental point is the program, more so even than internal elections because one of the things we need is a collective leadership, and to accomplish this it is fundamental that we have [a good] program. It is not about having 13 learned people sitting next to Chavez, not knowing what they think. We need to have everyone, including the 2 million [PSUV] militants, together with Chavez, united behind a single program discussing the way forward. Those who veer away from the program will be seen as being outside the party line, and outside the party.
Of course there is also the issue of the organisational structures — that it remain democratic, and the people that who are elected to leadership bodies be those who are the most in tune with that program.
Sanchez — I have been receiving reports from the congress and they were saying that “Hell, the Marxist-Leninist sector in the PSUV have expressed themselves with a lot of force!” It is in a disorganised manner but this sector has control of the discourse at the congress, and the right is disorganised and don’t know what to.
The problem is that the [left] is disorganised [as well]. The left hasn’t made any written proposals. For instance, the left hasn’t evaluated the statutes. So because they don’t have a proposal, everything is left a bit in the air.
@question = What is the weight of the left within the PSUV?
Gomez — There is a very important layer of delegates strongly tied to the social and popular movements, in tune with the grassroots. It is a critical sector, a sector that appears to be very firm in confronting corruption and bureaucratism.
This sector proposes that PSUV commissions be formed to revise the situation among high-level state functionaries, governors, mayors etc, in order to ensure that no one who has been corrupt or is implicated in violations of human rights be allowed in its ranks.
Carlos Luis Rivero, battalion spokesperson, AS — There are a number of sectors inside the PSUV that are fighting for more profound changes and for the PSUV to be the expression of vast sectors of the people and not the expression of the cliques that have formed within the Venezuelan process.
There is a debate and that is positive. In this debate I think the correlation of forces is on the side of those fighting to deepen the revolutionary process. However, these positions could be defeated rapidly because of the lack of organisation. But all this is part of the debate, and part of the weakness of the actual process.
We cannot simply decree our strength and decree the organisation of the people. We are trying to take steps forward, and the AS is an effort in that direction in the PSUV.