CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez on Sunday urged some of his political allies who are resisting his plan to form a single socialist party to leave his movement and go their own way, saying he hopes the split will be amicable even if they defect to the opposition.
Chavez aims to create the United Socialist Party of Venezuela to replace some two dozen smaller pro-government parties, but the idea has faced resistance from the parties Podemos, Fatherland for All and the Venezuelan Communist Party.
Chavez said he already considers the leaders of Podemos, including a handful of state governors and lawmakers, to be "almost in the opposition."
"If you want to go, leave," Chavez said during his television program "Hello, President." "In reality, you aren't indispensable."
If some politicians refuse to join the new socialist party, they could form a splinter group outside of Chavez's camp. The three parties hold small minorities in the 167-seat National Assembly, which has been entirely filled with Chavez's allies since major opposition parties boycotted 2005 elections.
The parties' reasons for resisting vary. While Podemos' leaders have taken issue with adopting a single party ideology, many communists wholeheartedly support Chavez yet have held off on disbanding until the new party's principles are clearly defined.
"I've concluded that the party Podemos, the party Fatherland for All and the Communist Party of Venezuela — at least their spokespeople, their leaders — don't want to join in the effort of building the United Socialist Party of Venezuela," Chavez said. "Well that's fine. They have a right. Now, leave us alone to create our own great party."
"I will open the doors for you. Leave if you want to go," Chavez said during the program, which was televised live from a site where public housing is planned to be built east of Caracas.
"I just want us to carry out a true revolution, and not let ourselves be tied to sectarianism, to partisanship, to political patronage, which has caused so much damage to this nation," he said.
Chavez said he hopes those who disagree, like Aragua state Gov. Didalco Bolivar of Podemos, will be honest about their differences and not go out "throwing stones."
"Let's shake hands and each one pick up (and go), like a good divorce," Chavez said, recalling his breakup with his first wife Nancy Colmenares. "Each one of us went our way, but we see each other and we give each other a hug. It was the friendship that remained, respect. That's how it should be."
Chavez, who has pledged a renewed push to transform Venezuela into a socialist state since he was re-elected in December, said he hopes many in the Communist Party and Fatherland for All may continue to be allies.
"We want true socialists," Chavez said, adding that next Saturday his new party will begin to form "socialist battalions," apparently to help organize grassroots support.
"I need men and women who are willing to give their very lives to drive the socialist revolution in Venezuela," he said.
As for others like the politicians of Podemos, Chavez said he hopes they may serve to "orient the democratic opposition."
Without offering details, he said he still faces an "anti-democratic opposition," repeating accusations that some opponents aim to overthrow him in a coup or even assassinate him.