'Peace is the central condition for the future of humanity'

By Roberto Jorquera

On September 23, Venezuelan revolutionary socialist youth leader Heryck Rangel spoke via telephone to Direct Action. In August, Rangel made a speaking tour of Australia at the invitation of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the university-based Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Clubs. He is currently president of the Youth Institute in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas and an activist in the ruling 6-million-member United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), founded in 2007, and also within the PSUV Youth.

On September 18, President Hugo Chavez announced a reshuffle of his cabinet. Can you inform our readers what the aim of the changes is?

The first thing is that the ministries have remained the same. There is a new Ministry of State that will oversee public finances. Priority would be to oversee a new national financial system. In relation to the new Council of Ministers, the president appointed six new vice-presidents representing different areas, with the aim of converting the new Council of Ministers into more of a political rather than administrative body. Because the revolution needs to accelerate the process which it is currently undergoing, to continue to break with bureaucracy, to break with bureaucratism, to make the state and government more efficient, Comandante Chavez has decided to create a new national leadership body consisting of himself and the vice-presidents.

In October of this year the PSUV is hosting an international conference of left and progressive parties. Could you explain the aims of this conference and what the PSUV is hoping to get out of this?

It will focus on the issues of peace and sovereignty — two issues which are central to the international agenda and which should mobilise political organisations in each of their respective countries. We need to understand national sovereignty as a fundamental issue, but also that socialist parties should have an internationalist understanding in our political thought. Peace is essential for the future of humanity. I read in the last few days a thought expressed by Mahatma Gandhi that, in the future, violence should be seen in such an abhorrent way as we now see the eating of a human by a human. We need to develop this level of consciousness and tackle the issue of peace in Latin America and in the world.

Today, we live in a world full of a series of crises — a social crisis, an economic crisis, an energy crisis and an ecological crisis — and all the while, United States imperialism continues to create points of instability in our region. We see how US imperialism has continued to create instability in the Middle East and feed the conflict in Darfur and other regions of Africa. We also see how US imperialism feeds the conflict in Colombia.

And so we, as revolutionaries and members of a political party that is a central pillar of a new society, believe that it is time to get together with other comrades of the struggle. It is a conference not only of socialist and revolutionary parties. It will also include left and progressive parties that identify with the issues of peace and sovereignty. We believe that it is a good time to come together, to debate and reflect but, above all else, to understand that political parties are instruments for the transformation of society. They should be able to take societies to a new stage which would be able to understand defence of sovereignty, not in a chauvinistic way which is insular and closed, but a sovereignty that is defined by respect for the right to self-determination for the peoples and the understanding that peace is the central condition for the future of humanity.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela is reported to be considering holding its second congress soon. When will it be held and what will be the major issues to be discussed?

The idea is still to hold it at the end of the year. We calculate that it will most likely be in December, but the president has not announced it. In relation to the topics that will be discussed, an agenda is being discussed that will focus on the political program of the party and the statutes of the party. We need to adopt permanent statutes — at the moment we only have temporary statutes. The congress of the party will help to generate a renewed effort on these issues. We are in the process of finalising the re-groupment of party members within the socialist patrols and now we need to elect the delegates who will participate in this national congress of socialists.

How has the PSUV been training its leadership cadre?

The party established the System of Political Formation Simon Rodriguez, which is the system for the formation of cadre. In the first instance, its aim is to train 5000 cadre on a national level in courses of  pedagogical education. The youth, for its part, has been developing for many months the School of Political Formation online. Within the website of the PSUV youth there are a variety of topics that are very important for ideological formation. The youth can access this electronically and download the classes for free and then organise study circles where they can analyse the material. We also believe that the Bolivarian revolution should be characterised not only by the formation of cadre on an ideological level, but also be accompanied on a practical level by the formation of party militants. It is necessary, to really develop socialism, to be able to interlink theory and practice.