Venezuelas Communists hold party congress

CARACAS — More than 3,000 Venezuelans filled the Poliedro, the auditorium here where the Communist Party of Venezuela opened its 12th National Congress on July 20.

Venezuela’s population is very young, and the delegates to the congress were as well. At the opening event, there were hundreds of young people from the Communist youth organization, many of whom were also serving as delegates as well as staff at the congress. The energetic crowd interrupted the speakers frequently with cheers, chants and songs, including the speech of Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, who greeted the Congress on behalf of President Hugo Chavez, who was in Argentina attending the Mercosur meeting.

Rangel spoke warmly and at length about the history and political contribution of the CPV, and said, “I am not now and never was a communist, but I believe in the Communist Party of Venezuela.”

Rangel read Chavez’s letter to the congress, which was greeted with a boisterous ovation. CPV General Secretary Oscar Figuera also addressed the gathering, as did a number of invited guests from other communist parties and the mayor of Caracas.

The Communist Party of Venezuela, founded in 1931, has grown tremendously with the opening up of democratic political space during the Chavez presidency, and especially since the attempted coup, oil strike and economic boycott in 2002, which were rebuffed by massive mobilizations of the Venezuelan people. There were more than three times the number of delegates at this congress than at the last in 2002.

Delegates from every part of the country discussed the political line of the party, how to participate in the “Bolivarian Revolution,” as the changes here are referred to, as well as the critical and unique role of Venezuelan Communists in the national discussion of what Chavez calls “21st century socialism.”

The congress unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed the proposal that the party support the candidacy of Chavez for president in the elections which will take place in early December, with a call to work for a huge voter turnout (“10 million votes!”)

Although the atmosphere in the meeting halls was one of optimism and excitement, many delegates expressed concern about the pressures and dangers that still face the people of Venezuela, given the Bush administration’s attitude toward the dramatic changes the Chavez government has initiated.

Elena Mora ( represented the Communist Party USA at the CPV congress.