MSPs who’ve publicly supported Venezuela’s socialist regime should admit their mistake, as the country stands on the brink of disaster.
Opposition leaders have been hauled from their homes and taken to prison, while the UK Government has advised all British nationals to leave the country.
In addition, voting firms say the weekend’s election was almost certainly “fixed”.
Despite this, a number of SNP, Labour and Green politicians have been gushing in their praise for the hard-left regime.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said their approach was “an embarrassment for Holyrood”, and that their respective leaders should distance themselves from the remarks.
Several parliamentary motions have been tabled praising the Venezuelan government, including the late Hugo Chavez.
Labour’s Neil Findlay has been effusive in his praise for both Chavez and current president Nicolas Maduro, hailing their “social reforms aimed at addressing the legacy of inequality” and “governing in the interests of the Venezuelan people”.
Fellow Labour member Elaine Smith urged MSPs to “note the reported international praise for Venezuela’s electoral system”. In the latest vote, the government there said turnout was more than eight million, while the opposition put the figure at 2.5 million amid reports of deserted polling stations.
Nationalist MSP Sandra White applauded authorities for “transforming Latin America into a progressive area”, a motion signed by dozens of other MSPs.
And in 2010 Jamie Hepburn, now a Scottish Government minister, said: “Venezuela has been transformed through the progressive policies pursued by the Chavez administration in the last decade.”
That motion was signed by, among others, Joe Fitzpatrick and Aileen Campbell.
Greens Ross Greer and John Finnie have also praised the left-wing administration on social media.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said:
“This lefty love-in for the Venezuelan government has to stop.
“It’s an embarrassment for Holyrood.
“It’s all very well for left-wing politicians to offer misty-eyed praise for a regime they’d love to see in place across Scotland and the UK.
“But the fact is it’s a brutal dictatorship which has brought Venezuela to its knees.
“Now opposition leaders are being ripped from their beds in the middle of the night, in front of their families, and thrown in jail. Presumably, as an opposition politician, Neil Findlay wouldn’t like this to happen to him.
“It’s time for the Scottish Parliament to wake up to this nonsense.
“These MSPs have to stop behaving like short-sighted student politicians and realise that, in the real world, this socialist experiment has been nothing short of devastating.”
Notes to editors:
Neil Findlay has submitted numerous motions to the Scottish Parliament on Venezuela:
- Congratulating Hugo Chavez on his victory in 2012 (link)
- Congratulating the ‘left-leaning governments of Latin America’ on a meeting of their alliance in 2014 attended by Nicolas Maduro from Venezuela, Daniel Ortega from Nicaragua, Evo Morales from Bolivia and Raul Castro from Cuba (link),
- wishing the retiring Venezuelan ambassador well (link)
- Congratulating Maduro’s election in 2013 which ‘gives Mr Maduro a mandate to continue the social reforms aimed at addressing the legacy of inequality in Venezuela’ (link)
- Supporting Maduro’s election in 2013 and supporting his ‘get on with governing in the interests of the Venezuelan people’ (link)
- Mourning the death of Chavez noting that ‘by using the revenues from state-owned and state-controlled oil production, his socialist administration has developed programmes that provide health care and education to all … and believes that the reforms introduced by President Hugo Chávez will continue for years to come.’ (link)
Elaine Smith believes the USA is interfering in Venezuela.
- She tabled a motion in 2015 saying “the Parliament is concerned at reports of continuing evidence of USA interference in the political affairs of Venezuela; is further concerned that there is a danger that the opposition will resort again to non-democratic methods; understands that the opposition in that country has so far refused to commit to accepting the results of the forthcoming national assembly elections; notes the reported international praise for Venezuela's electoral system, and urges all parties to respect the democratic process.”
- The motion was Supported by: Anne McTaggart, Jean Urquhart, Bill Kidd, Gil Paterson, John Mason, Neil Findlay, David Torrance, Richard Lyle, Margaret McDougall, Sandra White (link).
Sandra White applauded Hugo Chavez for ‘his role in transforming Latin America into a progressive area and in affirming the sovereignty of its nation states’ (link)
- The motion was signed by John Finnie, Joan McAlpine, Annabelle Ewing, John Mason, Gordon MacDonald, Willie Coffey, Elaine Smith, Roderick Campbell, Neil Findlay, Christine Grahame, Richard Lyle, David Torrance, Bill Kidd, Mike MacKenzie, Christina McKelvie, Anne McTaggart, Bob Doris, Colin Keir, Gil Paterson, Fiona McLeod, Dave Thompson, Jean Urquhart, Jamie Hepburn.
Elaine Smith also believed other countries should follow the example of Venezuela’s socialism
- She tabled a motion on Chavez’s 2012 election victory which “considers this a victory for the people of Venezuela and for socialism; applauds Mr Chavez for his hard work and commitment to Venezuela over the last 14 years, particularly throughout his battle with cancer last year; urges countries throughout the world to take note of Chavez’s socialist policies in this time of hardship’.
- The motion was supported by Bill Kidd, Jackie Baillie, Mike MacKenzie, David Torrance, Anne McTaggart, Patricia Ferguson, Angus MacDonald, Iain Gray, John Finnie, Richard Lyle, Rhoda Grant, Sandra White, Mary Fee, Richard Simpson, Jamie Hepburn (link)
Jamie Hepburn – now an SNP minister – believed that Venezuela was undermined by the USA and sent his ‘solidarity’ to the regime.
- He submitted a motion in 2010 saying “Venezuela has been transformed through the progressive policies pursued by the Chávez administration in the last decade; is concerned that this progress and the democratically elected government of Venezuela has been consistently undermined by reactionary elements in the United States and beyond; is further concerned about the increased militarisation of the wider region, such as the agreement between the US and Colombia concerning new military bases and the revival of the US Navy 4th fleet; further notes that this April marks the eighth anniversary of the coup against Chávez, which it considers was ultimately unsuccessful due to the resiliance of the Venezuelan people; believes that the recent coup in Honduras and the continued undermining of democratically elected governments across Latin America demonstrates the continued menacing presence of reactionary forces in the area, threatening peace, democracy and sovereignty; notes the march and rally taking place in London on Saturday 27 March 2010 to mark the eighth anniversary of the attempted coup against the Chávez administration; sends its support to those marching to show solidarity to that regime and the social progress made by it in Venezuela, and believes that greater relations between Scotland and Venezuela should be developed.
- The motion was supported by: Bill Kidd, Alasdair Allan, Bill Wilson, Elaine Smith, Joe FitzPatrick, Aileen Campbell, Sandra White, Gil Paterson (link)
A range of left-wing politicians have tweeted their support for Venezuela’s socialist regime:
- Neil Findlay has repeatedly tweeted in support of Maduro, on an election rally at which ‘over 2 million attended’ (link), on ‘right wing candidate threatening not to accept result if beaten!’ (link), and on attending a ‘Venezuela rally’ in London (link).
- John Finnie tweeted his ‘congratulations’ for ‘Venezuela chooses socialism’ (link)
- Sandra White tweeted ‘so sad Chavez dead’ (link)
- Ross Greer called Chavez’s death ‘a tragedy for his country’ (link)
- Danielle Rowley MP tweeted to the Communist Party, saying that she ‘bought a book from you on Venezuela a few years back’ (link)