Graham Jones MP: We must do more to support Venezuela as it resists the grip of dictatorship
Labour MP Graham Jones, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Venezuela urges politicians everywhere to 'support the Venezuelan opposition as they continue to stand up for these values in the face of intimidation and violence'.
Last week, Venezuela under the regime of President Nicolás Maduro and his party (the PSUV), celebrated the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution. A revolution which led to the deaths of 35 million people. In many ways, it is fitting for Maduro’s government, which is silencing and imprisoning opposition leaders and undermining democracy and the rule of law, to honour the foundation of an autocratic and brutal system of government in Russia that killed millions of its own people during the twentieth century.
No such events were planned in Russia by the Russian Government.
The Venezuelan people are suffering as a direct result of their government. However, under Maduro, it is becoming further isolated from the rest of the world. Every other country except one (Bolivia) in South America has condemned recent human rights abuses carried out by the state on its own people and the state sanctioning of wide-spread corruption and narco-trafficking. The situation is deteriorating further as Maduro places tougher restrictions on opposition members of the National Assembly from leaving and re-entering the country.
I currently chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Venezuela as a way to bridge the divide between the British and Venezuelan people. Over the past month, I have had the privilege to meet Venezuelan opposition leaders and hear first-hand the deteriorating political and economic situation in their country. A delegation of opposition MPs I met in London did not want to go to the media about their experiences until they returned to Venezuela, in fear that they would be denied re-entry if there had been coverage of criticism directed at the Maduro dictatorship.
Last month, I met three opposition Members at the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly in Saint Petersburg. The PSUV sent uninvited representatives there from its unconstitutional Constituent Assembly, set up this year to undermine to the democratically-elected National Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is not recognised by the IPU. The PSUV were asked to leave Saint Petersburg after they physically confronted the legitimate delegates sent from the National Assembly. This is just one of many desperate acts that Maduro’s Government has carried out to silence criticism of his contemptible regime. He is intent on intimidating democratically-elected representatives wherever they are in the world.
Despite this, the opposition MPs I met continue with their jobs as best as possible; to represent their constituents and hold the Government to account for their actions.
Whilst the Boligarchs milk Venzeula of its assets (Chavez's own daughter is reputedly worth $4.2 billion) and facilitate a global narco-trafficking network, Maduro’s Chavistas continue to wreck the Venezuelan economy with their failed ideology. The country is facing a rise in unemployment, wide-spread malnutrition because basic goods are either unavailable or too expensive, and public services that are breaking down due to mismanagement and corruption. The Venezuelan people are suffering under Maduro.
I urge politicians here in the UK and across the world who hold freedom, democracy and human rights as pillars of a civilised society to support the Venezuelan opposition as they continue to stand up for these values in the face of intimidation and violence.
Their courage and bravery should be an example to us all.
Graham Jones is the Labour MP for Hyndburn