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Corbynista silence on Venezuela exposes Left’s blind spot for despots

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05.02.2019

Latin America and the far Left has been a one-sided love story, interspersed by inconvenient truths. It venerates a crude Left-populism that ends up looking awfully like the corrupt regimes it set out to replace. Challengers are oppressed, economics become the plaything of vanity-project leaders. The saga of Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro’s dysfunctional helmsmanship is just the latest and most dramatic incarnation of a longer story of self-indulgent political thinking.

Foreign policy is the arena where the mask of moderation slips — and the sullen silence on Venezuela from Labour’s leadership tells its own story. So does its failure to back international calls for new presidential elections featuring international observers (last year’s coronation of Maduro raised allegations of fraud and menacing of opponents, to add to the grim charge sheet of national failures costing lives and livelihoods on an epic scale).

It’s an odd omission by Jeremy Corbyn, a fan of “Chavismo” in the early 2000s, and also from John McDonnell. After all, the shadow chancellor’s last-known statement regretted that Maduro, a loyal protégé of Chavez, relies on brutish vigilantes, has borrowed Cuban security forces to suppress dissent, has “taken a wrong turn” and was thus “experiencing problems”. Revolutionary language is all fire and brimstone, until the consequences of failure become too obvious. It then veers into the defensive-prissy mantras of “Mistakes were made in the Seventies, comrade.”

It might all seem distant stuff, given the problems........

© Evening Standard