The PSUV’s non-election

but not your voice

but not your voice

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.

12 thoughts on “The PSUV’s non-election

  1. Interesting that they can’t have a party congress, or anything, really, without holding it on Chavez’ birthday, deathday, saint’s day, or whatever, “to render him honour”. That way, Maduro can once again milk the fact that Chavez fingered him as leader.

    I mean, can anyone else think of a single reason anyone would support Maduro?

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    • A cheap tv,a cheap fridge,a cheap washing machine, the only piece of chicken in town after making a 6 hour line, cheap clothes at the mall thanks to SENIAT,free shitty medicine at any CDI.

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  2. Interesting news, Rodrigo. It is definitely worthwhile to know the others.
    These congress were never ever democratic ones, not in the Soviet Union, not in China. Still, things here seem to be evolving in a most undemocratic way for the visibility it can have in the Internet age.

    Now, I wonder: what do you propose as a means to approach the disaffected? I mean something beyond the obvious that so many forget: not calling everyone who has voted for Chavismo “a moron”, “gente sin clase”, any elitist, racist thing.

    Everyone claims to be with the poor and people like Capriles say misiones are just “to be improved”. I don’t think that is what you mean, is it? What is it?

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    • the approaching part is the hard one. When I say the PSUV is diverse, it really comprises everything from social democrats to trotskyist to marxist to post modernist to anachirst.

      You can attract the democrats, those who believe in participatory democracy and you can rub in their faces that parties like VP do hold elections and even elaborate in the fact, that the party continues to function in spite having lost its key figureheads due to the fact that regional leaders were elected and act in the benefit of their constituencies.

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      • You know what? I think we need to build even the most basic common ground. I believe a lot of people in Venezuela – from all sides – do not have even the slightest idea about democracy – other than it is about voting.

        If we don’t even discuss that within ours it’s going to be hard.

        We could begin there…but Venezuelans, even if almost every piece of their clothes and shoes and almost everything they touch but tostones and bananas is “made in Chna/USA/EU/Colombia”, have had little contact with the following ideas:

        1) real debate (my eternal mantra)
        2) the essence of division of powers
        3) needs and methods of accountability
        4) what it is that rule of law means
        5) separation of state and government

        Sometimes I wonder why our side doesn’t speak about this either. Because they think these are complex issues we cannot talk about until this government goes?
        Because they only really want the kind of feudal election-only democracy we have had and not the rest?

        We should start giving example. Perhaps Voluntad Popular does a little bit of that but: do you think anyone but the absolute political obsessed know about that? The average Chavista just knows VP is the party of that “niño bonito”.

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        • “our side”, they really want a change? Is hard to define if it is true, how different will be the policies they develop when the big parties in MUD are Social democratic/christian or those strange things called PJ (Centro- humanista?) or UNT (Neo-AD-with-rural-projection-so-is-a-little-conservative)

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  3. I salute your patience and endless fascination with “the other side”, Rodrigo. Ever thought of contributing your optics to them, or suggesting that they set up a little corner for guest speakers? Just a thought. Meanwhile I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, by the *news* that the government reached an agreement with the imperialist corporation Kimberley Clark to increase production of articles of personal hygiene.

    Does this mean that the endogenous production of ‘toallas sanitarias’, out of bundled and wrapped corn husks, has been shelved?

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  4. I’m a recurrent reader of Aporrea but I remain highly sceptical about the criticism of the goverment I read there, nearly all of it is blaming the goverment for not destroying the economy enough.

    The main thing to understand about chavismo’s leadership is that they are little more than a group of malandros that associate with the sole purpose to perpetuate their crimes against the national patrimony, they probably dont care about who’s in power as long as they keep sucking from the oil revenue into their accounts. They will continue to manipulate their bases into thinking that they are their only choice and the chavistas will continue to buy that theory as long as all the honest and intelligent chavista leaders (if there is any) lack either the ambition or the ability to tackle the party leadership.

    Fortunately, they are so incompetent and corrupted that maybe one day non-radical people will have enough and start to considerate voting for an opo candidate.

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  5. It would be interesting to see divisions in the chavista base before the National Assembly elections, they could easily lose the popular vote there.

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