Venezuelan leaders are preparing to put their Bolivarian Revolution on a more permanent footing. Organizing for a unified socialist party moved into high gear recently, and President Hugo Chavez described proposals for constitutional changes.

Both Chavez and Vice President Jorge Rodriguez spoke at a “National Meeting of Candidates for PSUV Militants” in Caracas on June 23-24. PSUV refers to the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, which is still in gestation. Some 15,000 “party promoters” learned that 5.7 million Venezuelans have joined the PSUV since April. One-third of them are age 30 or less. They represent 80 percent of those voting for Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections.

Chavez told the assembly that the new party is crucial to the long-term survival of Venezuela’s socialism of the 21st century. “Human beings are transitory,” he said. “The party must be eternal, the most powerful revolutionary motor.”

Chavez related Cuban President Fidel Castro’s observation that the Venezuelan “revolution would be carried away in the wind” should Chavez disappear. By contrast, Castro said, the Cuban revolution will continue after he is gone.

“I realize that unfortunately he is right,” said Chavez. “We don’t have a party, a big political machine, a big political direction.”

The party promoters took on responsibilities in ceremonies presided over by Chavez. The next party building stage has them preparing for a founding party congress set for August. After 9,000 more trained promoters are sworn in, a force of 25,000 will organize 20,000 local assemblies throughout the nation. The 300-member assemblies will convene from July 21 on to discuss the new party’s political program and to elect a “battalion spokesperson” to attend the founding congress.

Vice President Rodriguez indicated that the “battalions” will discuss the “structural basis” of the new party and “concepts of democracy, socialism, national sovereignty and anti-imperialism.” After the PSUV’s founding, the assemblies will function as centers for debate “inside the revolution,” he said.

Chavez predicted that the PSUV, representing 24 pro-Chavez parties, would be “the biggest party not only in Venezuelan history, but in all of Latin America … a party of organized masses, of organized fronts, of mass movements, of big groups and of different political blocs.”

In a June 24 television interview, Chavez discussed possible constitutional amendments to be submitted to the National Assembly and Venezuelan people later this month. One would allow the president of the republic to serve more than two terms. Another establishes a presidential-parliamentary system involving a prime minister. Chavez will reveal his own preferences later, he indicated, adding that a referendum will be required for final approval.

The president explored incorporation of “popular power” into the military. Constitutional revisions would allow a population under arms to be joined with the professional army to create a unified defense system. He also called for constitutional endorsement of changes projected under socialism.

Citing objectionable constitutional provisions favoring the capitalist “production model,” Chavez proposed bringing communal power, specifically the community councils, within the governmental framework. He criticized provisions emphasizing entrepreneurial enterprise, adding that in the present constitution “the social economy doesn’t appear, and much less socialism.”

He speculated, according to, that community councils may eventually satisfy local and national needs by taking over the means of production, i.e. the nation’s big factories and other large productive enterprises.