Third congress of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party ends

World Today

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s third congress ended this week amid concerns that the party is fragmented. CCTV’s Martin Markovits reports.

United Socialist Party of Venezuela's third congress ended

United Socialist Party of Venezuela's third congress ended

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela's third congress ended this week amid concerns that the party is fragmented. CCTV's Martin Markovits reports.

The image of Hugo Chavez loomed large as Socialist party members gathered for their first Congress without their founder. On the last night of the six-day meeting, 500 delegates gathered near Chavez’s tomb to hear his successor, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, speak about the future of the party.

A top priority for party officials now is keeping the rank and file united in the wake of the death of President Chavez last year. Venezuela’s faltering economy and the massive street protests by Venezuela’s opposition have hurt President Maduro’s standing among the public during his first year in office.

Although championed by Chavez, the controls have been blamed for the country’s record inflation and shortages of goods. But Party members did their best not to have internal divisions play out in public at the Congress. Instead they announced reforms to consolidate and promote the party’s socialist ideology to new members.

The Congress even tackled the controversial issue of raising gas prices, with the creation of a commission that will debate it. Many Venezuelans consider cheap gas a birthright. But in the face of mounting economic challenges, President Maduro may no longer be able to avoid at least considering a price hike.