Chavez Clashes with Communist Party of Venezuela over Candidacies

(Mérida, October 13, 2008) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez threatened to "sweep off the map" the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) and fellow leftist party Patria Para Todos (PPT), both of which have launched alternative candidacies to those of Chávez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the upcoming November 23rd regional and local elections. PCV and PPT leaders responded that it is their commitment to the revolution which compels them to remain independent.


"We must throw out the traitors, the deserters, those who were not at the height of commitment to the people," said Chávez during a PSUV rally in the state of Trujillo. "They are moved by personal interests, and they are playing into the division of the popular forces that support the revolutionary process, so I call them disloyal and counter-revolutionary."


Chávez repeated his previous challenge to the PCV and PPT party leadership to see if they are viable without his support. "We are going to sweep them off the map… they are going to disappear! I will take care of that, be sure of it," said the president.


PPT leader Andrea Tavares responded, "We are a revolutionary organization, not because someone puts a label on our foreheads, but because we demonstrate it with deeds."


The national coordinator of the PPT, José Albornoz, demanded that Chávez be more careful and respectful, and told the press Monday, "Our struggle is to construct a better country… our plan is to help consolidate the revolution, that is why our behavior is revolutionary."


Albornoz also assured that the PPT would not renege on its candidate decisions and said Chávez’s remarks reminded him of "old sociological and political readings where Stalin was mentioned."


Oscar Figuera, a national coordinator of the PCV, said his party is running alternative candidates "out of commitment to the revolution."


"No self-valuing revolution can be anti-communist," said Figuera in an interview with alternative media Sunday. "Pertinence to the PSUV should not determine pertinence to the revolution."


When President Chávez called on the political parties that support him to unite into one party in 2007, 95% of PCV members voted to remain independent, according to PCV leader Oscar Figuera.


Following the PSUV’s internal party elections last June, the PCV decided to support PSUV candidates in 16 of Venezuela‘s 23 states, but it launched independent candidacies in the other 6 states.


"We have just completed 77 years struggling for socialism in Venezuela," Figuera said, emphasizing that those who seek to sabotage the revolution are not the communists.


The PCV leader criticized the PSUV because "there was not a qualitative evaluation" of PSUV membership, so anybody, including the boss of a factory and the workers, could register. In contrast, "the Communist Party has a classist profile, with a clearly defined ideology," said Figuera.


Figuera said his party "shares the anti-imperialist character" of the PSUV, "but that is not sufficient for us."


Chávez however, called this "the classic behavior of the old partisanship. "They simply do not recognize leadership, and that is the heart of the question. They have their own plan," he said.


Figuera said he understands the president’s critique in the context of a heated "electoral dispute," but speculated, "It must hurt his conscience to say such things." Figuera reiterated that Chávez will not be able to destroy the PCV, just as the dictatorships and two-party rule of the century prior to Chávez could not destroy the party.


Both the PCV and PPT remain in the coalition of pro- Chávez parties called the Patriotic Alliance. PSUV officials promised to re-examine the alliance with the PPT and PCV at this week’s coalition meeting. The PSUV already broke its alliance with the party Gente Emergente for supporting an opposing candidate for governor of Barinas state.

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