The PSUV has delayed the election of its leadership now for three years. This has not been easy to swallow for party loyalists, particularly those who adamantly believe in “participatory democracy” but have been deceived by the idea that the national elections took precedence over democracy inside the party.
But as the governing party heads toward its first election in the post-Chávez era, many questions linger.
Now, this post comes with a confession: I am an Aporrea addict. I find the chavista grass-roots website endlessly appealing. I have always seen chavismo as a movement full of contradictions, and Aporrea is the place where you can contemplate this chaos in all its glory. It’s fitting, as this was a site founded by someone who self-defines as a “Startuper on a shoestring budget. Full stack developer w Ember.js Node.js MongoDB MySQL PHP Symfony. Woodworker, F1 fan, Incurable trotskyist & proud Venezolano”.
Aporrea was even forced to add Google Ads (the apostasy!) as it could no longer support itself financially, whether it’s in lechugas or bolivares. Say what you will, but Aporrea is the all-encompassing, all-welcoming site where all currents within Chavismo converge.
Well, all but its leadership, that is. If Aporrea is to be believed, there is a serious disagreement between las bases and the politburo. The cracks are showing, and the differences run deep.
The hot topic on Aporrea for the last few months has been the PSUV Congress, the convention where leadership positions will be decided and which will take place in a few days. Acitvists have been kept quiet with the threat of an election, while they are constantly reminded of the need for loyalty. The eagerness to voice their discontent, elect new representatives, and shift the party into a new direction is palpable. This, of course, brings many questions. What direction will the PSUV take? Specially taking into consideration how diverse PSUV is. How will this event go forward now that the über-unifying and, more importantly, conflict-resolving comandate eterno is no longer?
Initially the PSUV Congress’ goal was to elect the Board of Directors. Chavez was the President, but he was also the party’s president, and no elections have been summoned ever since he died.
If you read the party’s statutes, it is unclear whether they even have to. There are no provisions for the president’s absence. Article 5 leaves open the door for any election method, something not everyone agrees on.
These set of unclear rules resonate in the Congress’ debate rules. I love this part:
Article 18: The conclusions and decisions will be reached by consensus and, if this is not possible, it will be by majority. Everything not resolved in the Congress will be resolved by the Congress National Coordination.
And that’s it … No clarification is added here. In fact the congress statutes have 29 articles in which the National Coordination – the leadership in charge of organizing the Congress – is mentioned in 22 of them. This is the cherry on the top.
Article 29: Anything not resolved within these rules, including any interpretation of its articles, is to be decided by the Congress National Coordination and the Party’s First Vice-presidency.
(In case you didn’t click on that last link, the party’s “First Vice-Presidency” is a chavista euphemism for Diosdado Cabello)
Of course, none of this will be an issue as there are only two things on the agenda. First, set some non-binding guidelines. Second, and more importantly, to elect Chavez as “Honorary President” and to unanimously elect Maduro as Party President. Literally, it reads “elect Maduro party President unanimously”.
The Congress will carry out all the decision making voting as second degree process. Basically, 900 members have a right to vote, but only 540 are elected for this purpose from the UBCHs (some sort of party activist node). The others are basically hand-picked elected or appointed officials. These congress members will then vote to elect Maduro as president, and that basically allows Maduro to appoint everyone else after that, screwing over many in the party.
This is important because chavismo militants are worn out. They are fed up, but they have no alternative. The opposition has alienated chavistas for years, making the cost to switching sides much too high.
That has to stop. Here is the perfect time (non-electoral) to really do some real activism and capture community leaders everywhere. PSUV aristocrats are so certain about the lack of options, that Maduro was heard muttering:
This is not a congress to play democracy.
The truly remarkable comment is from Diosdado Cabello:
If you don’t like how things are run in the PSUV then leave and start another party.
The government is the party, and the party is the government. And neither believes in democracy. Not for them, and certainly not for us.