Ken Livingstone blames US and ‘establishment elite’ for Venezuela crisis
Ken Livingstone has backed Venezuelan President Maduro and insisted an "establishment elite" is behind the economic chaos in the country.
The Former London Mayor also laid blame at the door of the US, arguing America had a "long record of undermining any leftwing government".
The President, who has been in power since the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, claimed victory in a recent election for members of a constituent assembly.
But the vote over the constitutional body was subject to a boycott by millions of Venezuelans, including opposition politicians, who fear President Maduro is attempting to strengthen his power.
Protests against his regime - which have seen a food crisis, soaring inflation and rising crime levels - have sparked rioting, and have so far claimed the lives of 122 people.
But Mr Livingstone, who is currently suspended by the Labour party, said the economic decline in the country by a third since 2014 was the fault of establishment figures and US meddling, alongside a fall in oil reserves.
Asked last night by the Times if he supported President Maduro and the nation’s Bolivarian revolution, Mr Livingstone said: “Oh God, yes.”
He added: “Hugo Chávez did not execute the establishment elite, he allowed them to continue so they’re still there.”
And he said: “I think there’s a lot of rumours they’ve been blocking the important food and medicines and things like that because they control a lot of the companies...
“And America has got a long record of undermining any leftwing government as well. So I suspect it’s not all just down to the problems of the [Venezuelan] government.”
Mr Livingstone is recognised as a long-standing ally to socialist Venezuela, having struck an oil deal with London during his time at City Hall - although it was later scrapped by Boris Johnson.
He is currently serving a Labour party suspension after he repeatedly made claims that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism before he “went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.
Reports this morning claimed two key opposition leaders in Venezuela have been placed under house arrest over accusations relating to protests in 2014.