Chavez In Build Up To Election Campaign

By Ewan Robertson

With just under four weeks until the official launch of Venezuela’s presidential election campaign on 1 July, President Hugo Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is gearing up for a nationwide campaign which seeks to garner 10 million votes for Chavez and secure the Venezuelan president’s third full term in office.

In preparation for the election, to be held on 7 October, the PSUV’s Battle of Carabobo election campaign has established “commands” of activists at different organisational levels in order to coordinate campaigning activities.

Last Wednesday Carabobo campaign chief Jorge Rodriguez confirmed that state commands have been established for all of Venezuela’s 24 regional states. The campaign also has seven higher-level commands, corresponding to each of Venezuela’s geographical regions.

During last week 335 commands were also established at the municipal level, one for each municipality, with each municipal command containing 50 members.

At an event in Miranda state to set up municipal commands in Venezuela’s central region yesterday, Aristobulo Isturiz, Vice President of Venezuela’s National Assembly and chief of the Carabobo campaign in Miranda state, explained that beginning this coming Sunday each municipal command would form local parish commands and “battle units”, groups of 8 – 15 activists on the grassroots level.

“The [municipal] commands should integrate one [member] from each parish and one from each battle unit,” he added.

Meanwhile PSUV major of Higuerote (Miranda state) Lilliana Gonzalez declared at the gathering, “It’s important to highlight the historic significance of this great battle [the presidential elections], not only for the triumph of President Chavez on 7 October, but because this is the people’s triumph”.

The parish commands and battle units will be involved in door to door campaigning using a “1 for 10” strategy whereby each activist will aim to gain 10 votes for Chavez in order to achieve the campaign’s aim of 10 million votes, which would deliver him an overwhelming victory. In the 2006 presidential elections Chavez won with 7,309,080 votes, 62.84% of those cast.

These grassroots campaigning units will also form election observer teams, with the Carabobo campaign expecting to organise around 130,000 people to monitor the October vote, 3 observers for each polling station.

The PSUV also launched its fundraising strategy “A Day’s Wage for the Revolution” last week, encouraging Chavez supporters to donate a day’s wage to help raise funds for the coming presidential contest.

The PSUV is by far Venezuela’s largest political party, with 7 million registered members and 312,000 newly joined in a recent membership drive. Not all of those registered are active party activists.

Aristobulo Isturiz emphasised yesterday that in order to be successful the Carabobo campaign “needs to activate five fronts,” which he named as social missions, grassroots organisations, workers and unions, youth, and other social sectors. On these fronts “we need to bring political content to our work, ideological and programmatic content,” he urged.

On Saturday Venezuelan justice minister and strategy coordinator for the Carabobo campaign, Tareck El Aissami, warned that although Chavez enjoys a seemingly irreversible advantage in the polls against his conservative rival Henrique Capriles Radonski, activists should not fall into triumphalism but rather work hard with all political alliances that support the Bolivarian revolution.

Launched in February, the PSUV’s Carabobo campaign is the main political vehicle aspiring to secure Chavez’s re-election, along with the Great Patriotic Pole, a coalition of social movements which supports President Hugo Chavez and the continuance and deepening of the Bolivarian political process he leads.

Plan of Government

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez confirmed yesterday in a phone call to state television VTV that he would register his candidacy for the presidential elections “in the coming days”. The registration period set by the National Electoral Council is from 1 to 11 June.

“Today I worked all afternoon on the program of government 2013 – 2019 that I’ll present to the National Electoral Council in the coming days,” he said.

Chavez stated his plan of government would “convert Venezuela into a powerful country within the great power of Latin America and the Caribbean,” adding that the next period is “going to be important for the consolidation of socialism”.

Meanwhile Isturiz expressed his opinion yesterday that the Chavez government’s first Socialist Plan of the Nation 2007 – 2013 aimed to “pay off the social debt to the people” created by previous governments, by focusing on human development and reducing poverty and inequality.

“The next socialist plan has the strategic objective of making the revolution irreversible; when we say they won’t return [Venezuela’s ruling elite before the Chavez government], it will go from being a slogan to a reality,” he declared.

A total of six other candidates besides Chavez are registering to run in the 7 October presidential election, including Chavez’s main rival, Henrique Capriles Radonski of the right-wing Democratic Unity Table (MUD) coalition.

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