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Montevideo, October 17th 2017 - 13:16 UTC

British Labour party divided on support for Venezuela's Maduro regime

Friday, August 4th 2017 - 07:45 UTC
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Shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes called on the government of Venezuela to recognize its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and rule of law. Shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes called on the government of Venezuela to recognize its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and rule of law.
A spokesman for shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Maduro has to address the global community's legitimate concerns about his authoritarian rule A spokesman for shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Maduro has to address the global community's legitimate concerns about his authoritarian rule
Mr. Corbyn attended a 2013 vigil following the death of Chavez, hailing him as an ”inspiration to all of us fighting against austerity and neo-liberal economics in EU Mr. Corbyn attended a 2013 vigil following the death of Chavez, hailing him as an ”inspiration to all of us fighting against austerity and neo-liberal economics in EU
Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan condemned the “disgraceful regime”, adding: “If the United Nations were to apply sanctions, we would be part of that.” Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan condemned the “disgraceful regime”, adding: “If the United Nations were to apply sanctions, we would be part of that.”

Labour MP close to Jeremy Corbyn has criticized the US's decision to impose sanctions on the Venezuelan president. Chris Williamson said it would be “better to facilitate talks” between the government and opposition amid ongoing political unrest and violence.

 The Labour leader is under pressure to condemn President Nicolas Maduro, after voicing support for him in the past. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said concerns of growing “authoritarianism” must be addressed.

More than 120 people have died during months of anti-government protests in the country. Two opposition leaders who boycotted a controversial election to create a new constitutional assembly - denouncing it as an attempt by the government to strengthen its power - were put in a military prison on Tuesday.

A statement from shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes on Monday called on the government of Venezuela to recognize its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and the rule of law.

And a spokesman for shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry went further on Thursday, saying President Maduro had to address the international community's legitimate concerns “about his increasingly authoritarian rule”.

“The election must not be treated as a mandate for further repression and violence,” he told the Guardian.

Mr Corbyn is currently on holiday and not expected to make any comment until he returns next week. But Mr Williamson, a close ally of the leader, told BBC Newsnight on Wednesday that “clearly it can't be right, can it - in a situation where there is a massive crisis in Venezuela - to impose sanctions on the country.”

Under the sanctions, announced on Monday, US firms and individuals are banned from doing business with President Maduro.

“Surely it would be far better to try and bring the sides together, to facilitate talks and to encourage the right wing opposition to stop these protests on the streets,” Mr. Williamson added.

Venezuela's 30 million citizens are suffering shortages of food, basic goods and medicines. Families of UK diplomatic staff in the oil-rich country have been temporarily withdrawn from the country as anti-government protests continue.

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan condemned the “disgraceful regime”, adding: “If the United Nations were to apply sanctions, we would be part of that.”

Mr. Corbyn has previously supported the Venezuelan government under both socialist president Hugo Chavez and his successor Mr Maduro.
As a backbencher Mr Corbyn attended a 2013 vigil following the death of Mr Chavez, hailing him as an “inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neo-liberal economics in Europe”. He also shared a platform with Mr. Maduro in 2006.

Asked whether his political philosophy was closer to President Maduro's or Tony Blair's, Mr. Williamson declined to answer but said: “When a government is doing good things, as they certainly were under Hugo Chavez...that's surely a good thing that we should celebrate.”

But Graham Jones, the Labour MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Venezuelan, said he expected Mr. Corbyn to comment on the situation in the Latin American country when he returns from holiday.

“It's down to each individual what they say and when they say it,” he told BBC Radio 4's Today. “As far as the party's concerned, you know Liz has made this statement. I think it was published in all the press. I would have gone further and I think more needs to be taken.”

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  • Pontefractious

    Anyone who could conceivably support the current regime must possess a very special pair of blinkered, rose-colored spectacles.
    It doesn't look like anything much is going to happen in Venezuela after the US imposes sanctions, other than a continuation of the current drift towards anarchy. Maduro cannot afford to lighten up. The opposition has insufficient power to make a determinative impact. So what about the armed forces ? Why aren't they doing anything ? Well, to begin with, about one third of the ministers in Maduro's cabinet are either serving or retired officers. With those nice little earners none of them is likely to rock the boat. And to reduce the likelihood that they do, the military is being allowed to invest in ventures of one sort or another that clearly offer substantive opportunities for economic advancement. Not the sort of thing you walk away from without thinking pretty hard about it. If Maduro does finally bring the country to a complete standstill, don't expect a return to democracy any time soon. The military will take over to protect and further their economic interests. By that stage no-one is going to care what the OAS has to say. Internally the army is well-organized on a regional basis and with some of the new toys they've been allowed to buy will have little difficulty taming any opposition. Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

    Aug 04th, 2017 - 01:44 pm +8
  • Marti Llazo

    Well, then, said Jeremy Corbyn, let Hitler have that part of Czechoslovakia, we don't want to upset the fine fellow after all, and we can, you know, keep talking.

    Aug 04th, 2017 - 01:32 pm +6
  • Clyde15

    TTT

    You don't know the British people any more than I know the Argentinian people.
    You get your info. by reading “on-line”news or discussions which do not necessarily represent the feeling of the population as a whole.

    I just react to people like yourself and assume that this is just typical of the Argentine population.

    Aug 04th, 2017 - 03:49 pm +4
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