Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The silly season - or not

My first reaction to the Times front page with the headline

"Labour MPs urge Corbyn to condemn Venezuela"

was to laugh uproariously and think "The silly season is off to a good start."

My second thoughts was that actually the situation in Venezuela is too sad to be funny. More than a hundred and twenty people have died in riots over the past four months as the economy becomes a basket case.

What should be one of the richest countries in Latin America is spiralling down into collapse.

CNN reports, "Venezuela is running out of food. Hospitals are overcrowded with sick children while doctors don't have enough medicine or X-ray machines. Electricity isn't guaranteed. About the only thing Venezuela has in abundance is chaos."

As that well known right-wing newspaper The Guardian (irony warning) commented after a disputed election for a constituent assembly,

'The European Union has condemned “the excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces” and said it had serious doubts whether the election could be recognised. On Wednesday, one of the companies who worked on the voting system for Venezuela’s constituent assembly election said it believed results were inflated by at least 1m votes.'

Since the vote, Maduro’s government has continued to arrest representatives of the country’s beaten-down opposition.

It would be oversimplistic to blame everything which has gone wrong in Venezuela on Hugo Chavez or socialism, and this more nuanced account argues for a broader view but it is beyond dispute that the present socialist government which Jeremy Corbyn praised to the skies has catastrophically failed to resolve the country's problems and is resorting to increasingly authoritarian and dictatorial measures to try to hold on to power.

Even many of those socialists who used to praise the Chavez and Maduro regimes have, like  Asa Cusack in a mea cupla in the Guardian, changed their minds.

Of course, the left are on a hiding to nothing. If they condemn the Maduro regime, we will be reminded that they used to support policies - and advocate them here in Britain - which have contributed to complete catastrophe in Venezuela. If they don't, their silence about the dictatorial and brutal methods used by the Maduro regime will be all the more deafening.

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