LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn has been urged by MPs to personally condemn the Venezuelan government under President Maduro, a regime he has previously supported.
The Labour leader has been put under pressure by MPs from his own party to speak out after reports that two Venezuelan opposition leaders were taken from their homes by Maduro’s government.
Angela Smith, a Labour MP and a member of the all-party parliamentary group on Venezuela told the Times newspaper that she hoped her “that my party leadership will as soon as possible condemn what’s happening in the country and call for the release of opposition party political prisoners.”
Smith said: “I think Corbyn needs to condemn the actions of the Venezuelan regime, which are a very serious threat to democracy in that country.”
There have been outbreaks of violence in which at least 105 people have been killed in the South American country after Maduro’s attempts to grab power for himself.
Corbyn has said in the past that Venezuela showed a “better way of doing things” under Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor. He also praised Maduro’s government in 2015, saying that its achievements on policies such as housing and education were “a cause for celebration.”
Graham Jones, another Labour MP who is chairman of the Venezuela parliamentary group said: “I believe everybody in the Labour Party should condemn the Venezuelan regime because the first duty of any state is to look after its citizens. Venezuela has failed.”
The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “I think a lot of British people would be reassured if the leadership of the Labour Party made it clear that they had ended their infatuation with the Venezuelan regime.”
Liz McInnes, a Labour shadow foreign minister, said on Monday: “we urge the government of Venezuela to recognise its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and the rule of law. The outcome of this election cannot be treated as a mandate for a further escalation of repression, division, and violence.
“President Maduro must also respond personally to the legitimate concerns of the international community about the increasingly authoritarian nature of his rule and the growing hardship facing his people.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn said that McInnes’s comments represented Labour’s position on Venezuela and that he would not be making a further statement.