EXCL Labour peer hits out after inclusion in letter warning against US involvement in Venezuela

Posted On: 
28th January 2019

A Labour peer has hit out after her name was included in a letter warning against “far-right” US interference in Venezuela.

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Baroness Massey was listed as a signatory to correspondence published in The Guardian warning against another “disastrous” foreign intervention.

But the peer has insisted she had no prior knowledge of her inclusion before it appeared in the newspaper last night.

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The letter - organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Committee - was also signed by senior members of the Shadow Cabinet, including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon.

America is one of several western countries which has recognised Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, as the country's rightful ruler instead of President Nicolas Maduro.

The letter in The Guardian said: “The far-right governments of Trump and Bolsonaro offer no hope to Venezuela or to the majority of people in Latin America.

“Whatever views people hold on Venezuela, there is no justification for backing the US attempt at regime change under way, which, if successful, could go the way of the disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya.

“Instead, the way forward is the call for dialogue from the Mexican and Bolivian presidents.”

Among the other signatories, which also included several trade union leaders and other left-wing campaigners, was "Doreen Massey". That was later changed to "Doreen Massey Labour, House of Lords".

But Baroness Massey insists her name was wrongly included in the list, and suggested she may have been mixed up with another Doreen Massey, a Marxist academic who had a keen interest in Venezuela, but died in 2016.

"I disassociate myself from this letter," she told PoliticsHome. “I know nothing about it. My name is Doreen E Massey and I’ve never heard of this letter – it’s nothing to do with me. They have pursued this in a very unprofessional way. It’s crazy."

In a bizarre twist, the Venezuela Solidarity Committee insisted Baroness Massey had requested her name be added to the list of signatories, but she had subsequently changed her mind.

A spokesperson told PoliticsHome: "Prior to publication we recieved an email from Baroness Massey to add her name to our letter.

"After publication, we have been informed that Baroness Massey no longer wishes to have her name on the letter and thus we have removed her from the list of signatories. The Guardian will be editing accordingly."

The group also produced a screenshot appearing to show an email exchange between them and Baroness Massey in which she replies "Yes" when asked if she would add her name to the letter. 

But in response, Baroness Massey said she was the victim of a "scam" and insisted she did not give approval for her name to be on the letter.

She added: "I would never sign anything like this. I think it is something to do with them not knowing the other Doreen Massey had died."

The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, whose honorary president is Ken Livingstone - who also signed the letter - have strongly opposed US sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime, following a slip into authoritarianism and economic instability.