On January 23, President Maduro established a new organizational body for the Bolivarian Revolution: the Congress of the Fatherland (Congreso de la Patria). According to the government’s news agency Agencia Venezolana de Noticias:
This body has the objective of creating a communicational, cultural, economic, and educational (formativo) strategic plan aimed at the strengthening of socialist project in Venezuela, to set an example in the region which is under constant threat by the empire and the national right wing.
The new body incorporates one hundred “Delegates of the Fatherland” belonging to social organizations with links to the Chavista movement. Its attributions seem to be mainly to serve as a mechanism of consultation. During the event vice-president Aristóbulo Istúriz further explained that the delegates will have the tasks of:
discussing the strategy for the construction of the new historical block, in the sense of contributing to the strengthening of the progressive consciousness of the peoples of the world. They will also drive the debate over the promotion of new forms of organizations … and will contribute to the construction of a new cultural hegemony, based on the values of patriotism, humanism and social justice. The other tasks will the construction of a new economic model aimed at achieving the independence of the nation and the strengthening of different paths of struggle, going beyond the electoral path, even as this last path has been a field of important victories for the chavista people.
Beyond these general ideological and organizational tasks, the Congress of the Fatherland is clearly meant to be another attempt to symbolically counter the opposition dominated National Assembly with a parallel institution. The week before the inauguration of the new National Assembly on January 5, outgoing president of the assembly, Diosdado Cabello, instituted the “National Communal Parliament” which like the new Congress, was also composed of popular Chavista leaders. However, the Communal Parliament convened for its third session of January 4 and has not met since.
In his speech, president Maduro said that the Congress of the Fatherland had become necessary because the new National Assembly had forsaken the people by rejecting his proposal of an Economic Emergency Decree which would give the president extraordinary powers for 60 day to handle the economic crisis. He claimed that the deputies of the National Assembly had received direct orders from the main business union in Venezuela (FEDECAMARAS) to vote against the decree.
The new Congress of the Fatherland is also meant to recharge the revolutionary fervor of the Chavista movement in the wake of its electoral defeat in December last year, and in the context of bleak economic outlook. The inauguration event was held in the Cuartel de la Montaña, the final resting place of president Chávez with the slogan “Victorious Rebellion.”
President Maduro said that “rebellion must become the calling cry of the people in the face of the threatening bourgeoisie in the National Assembly; rebellion against the threats by the empire.”