Britain Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, has said he is saddened by the violence and loss of life in Venezuela, “either of those on the streets or of the security forces who have been attacked by those on the streets”.
“Violence is not going to solve the issues,” Corbyn told the media, at the end of a local party meeting in the southern English town of Crawley. He said there has to be dialogue and a process that respects Venezuela's institutions, including the independence of the judiciary.
He welcomed the backing for dialogue given by French President Emmanuel Macron, and suggested this could become a regional initiative.
Corbyn has been under intense pressure in recent days to distance himself from the Bolivarian government, with which he has often expressed solidarity in the past. Members of Parliament on the right of his own party, as well as leaders from other British parties, have all demanded that the Labour leader condemn what they call “the regime” of President Nicolas Maduro.
This pressure comes after opinion polls in mid-July gave Corbyn approval ratings 11 points higher than Prime Minister Theresa May, and made him the only leader of a major British party with a positive approval score.
Before his unexpectedly strong showing in the June general election, Corbyn was repeatedly attacked over his past support for Irish nationalists and Palestinians.
Corbyn said it was important to recognise “that there have been effective and serious attempts at reducing poverty in Venezuela, improving literacy and improving the lives of many of the poorest people”.
When asked if he regretted giving his support to Maduro when he came to power, Corbyn answered, “I gave the support of many people around the world for the principle of a government that was dedicated towards reducing inequality and improving the life chances of the poorest people.”
Corbyn has a long history of supporting popular struggles in Latin America, going back to the aftermath of the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and his participation in labour movement delegations to Central America in the 1980s.
John Prescott, a former Labour deputy prime minister said Corbyn does not “run away” from opinions he previously expressed about Venezuela.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]