Mérida, August 9th, 2009 (Venezuenanalysis.com) – The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the party which supports President Hugo Chavez and which currently has almost 7 million registered members, is reorganising itself into smaller units called "patrols," in order to increase participation and ideological formation, party leaders said.
On August 1 the PSUV held assemblies across the country to discuss and inform about the restructure, then on Saturday it began the process of regrouping into patrols of twenty to thirty members based on geographic regions.
The PSUV guide says all members should be registered in the party and each patrol should decide on a permanent place to meet. Patrols filled in forms that they handed in at red tents distributed in plazas across the country on Saturday.
Previously, the PSUV was organised into "battalions" or branches, based on population areas of around 1,000 people. Battalions therefore often had around 300 registered members, with a small proportion of those active, and while there were formally around 14,000 battalions, many had not been meeting. Elected spokespeople from ten battalions formed a "circumscription," which also elected delegates.
Such delegates and spokespeople will now no longer exist. The new patrols, according to PSUV leaders, will not have any coordinators, spokespeople, or other such positions.
Green Left Weekly reports that a leaflet distributed at the information assemblies said that due to logistical difficulties grassroots participation in the battalion meetings had diminished. The PSUV leadership, drawing from the successful experience of the election campaign structures, announced this new structure where activists who know each other locally get together to form a patrol.
Hugo Cabezas, governor of Trujillo state, said one of the main tasks of the patrols is to help the "the revolutionary government govern, in order to construct socialism" and to form cadre activists who have "ideology and revolutionary vision."
"We have to make it known in the popular sectors that socialism is the path and for this, the membership has to prepare itself ideologically," Cabezas said.
Jorge Arreaza, PSUV coordinator of the political formation committee said that the patrols would become "study and socialist action groups." He said in the first meetings of the patrols, they would be given the question; "What is the role of the people of Bolivar in this historic moment?" and that other questions would follow, "in order to create party cadre, people with commitment…with the capacity to analyse a concrete situation and from such analysis, transform reality."
Arreaza said patrols would meet for such formation once a month.
Freddy Bernal, a PSUV leader, said the new patrols would function in an ongoing basis, "not just during election time." He also said "membership reserves" would be formed by members who are registered in the party but who don’t regularly attend meetings.
Bernal said the patrols would analyse problems in the community, as well as discuss national and international issues.
"The patrols are founded on the basis of the need to construct the party we need, with small dynamic units, that meet easily and allow for the integration of all the different sectors of the country," he said.
PSUV youth leader Robert Serra said that the 1 million young people registered in the party should join the patrols and that such youth would also promote the creation of children’s patrols to encourage recreational activities, "in order to rescue Venezuelan values."
National Assembly legislator Dario Vivas also said the aim of the patrols was to "agitate and mobilise the seven million members that the PSUV has, in order to adapt its structure …to the current situation that the Bolivarian revolution is living."
Vivas also said they would be the basis for the organisation of the PSUV congress due to be carried out in early October.
PSUV organisation committee leader Jorge Rodriguez said 5 million PSUV members participated in the assemblies last Saturday, in 1,556 assemblies, out of a total of 1,663 that the party had planned, and Bernal said that in Caracas, there have been 296 such assemblies until now.
A PSUV leader in Carabobo state, Saul Ortega, said 600 patrols had been formed in that state. However, most states are still collecting information on patrols registered so far, and all patrols have until 15 August to organise themselves.
On 3 May President Hugo Chavez said the PSUV would undergo a "re-definition" in which sectarianism and corrupt party leadership must end and the party must strengthen its ties to social movements.Chavez called for the creation of the PSUV in December 2006 in order to bring together all the left wing parties who supported his presidency into one, democratically run party.