By Paul Hampton
Two reasons to cheer in Venezuela recently, as socialists restarted the task of building an independent workers’ party, separate from Chávez’s ruling bourgeois PSUV.
In April supporters of Orlando Chirino within the C-CURA trade union left organised a conference to establish a new workers’ party. Chirino has a socialist and trade union history predating Chávez’s time in power, and is a leader of the UNT trade union federation. In recent years he was also a leader of the PRS socialist party. He opposed Chávez’s constitutional referendum and was victimised for trade union activity in the state-owned oil company PDVSA last year.
The move to form a new workers’ party is reported in a highly informative interview in the recent Permanent Revolution (PR) magazine by Wladek Flakin. It flows from Chirino’s analysis of Chávez’s party as a bourgeois and Bonapartist force. He explains how undemocratic the PSUV is and how far it is from the workers’ movement.
Asked about the founding congress, he replied: “The delegates were completely knocked over by the top leaders of the government. Even though the delegates voted, the election of the national leadership was totally undemocratic. Why? The congress gave a list of 300 names to Chávez, and Chávez filtered these very well and picked 69 who could be elected. This way, even if the ones he most favoured weren’t elected, there would still be people close to him.”
Asked about the presence of some socialists in the PSUV, Chirino pointed out that only one member of Marea Socialista was a delegate (out of 1,677). He added:
“There is no debate, no possibility to present documents. Right now there’s a battle going on about selecting candidates for the elections at the end of the year, and Chávez has said that anyone who presents themselves as candidates too early will be expelled.
“There is no possibility there to set up a revolutionary current, a tendency, a fraction to participate in these debates. Further, a party that is openly connected to the government can’t be an instrument of the working class.”
Chirino also nails the myth that the bulk of C-CURA have gone over to the PSUV, arguing that the group around Marea Socialista were a minority and that many came back after the referendum was defeated.
Also at the end of May, another current from within the PRS, the JIR socialist youth organisation, held its own conference and declared for the establishment of a new organisation, adopting the name Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS). The group, linked the PTS in Argentina, has also stridently upheld an independent working class line against both Chávez and the opposition in the presidential election in 2006 and in the referendum.
The organisations are not without political problems, given their Morenoist roots. However they share a common analysis of Chavismo – one also held by the AWL – as well as an orientation towards Venezuelan workers. Socialists internationally should do everything to help these comrades, by publicising their efforts and by making solidarity. They represent the best prospects for Venezuelan workers in the current situation.
By Paul Hampton