European Fellow Travelers Refuse to Criticize Venezuelan Dictator

Left-wing admirers of Hugo Chávez will not see his heirs for the thugs they have become.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro meets with officials in Caracas, February 19, 2015
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro meets with officials in Caracas, February 19, 2015 (Prensa Miraflores)

Seventeen Latin American nations, including those run by leftists, agree Venezuela is now a “dictatorship” under Nicolás Maduro.

For most of his presidency, Maduro has ruled by decree. When the opposition won a majority of the seats in parliament, he replaced it with a Constituent Assembly full of cronies. Critical lawmakers have been arrested. A “truth commission” is being established to investigate thoughtcrimes. Instead of seeing high crime and low growth rates as evidence of the failure of Venezuela’s socialist experiment, the crude and homophobic Maduro entertains anti-American and anticapitalist conspiracy theories.

Yet left-wing admirers of Hugo Chávez will not see his heirs for the thugs they have become.

  • British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who once described Chávez an “inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neoliberal economics”, still can’t bring himself to condemn Venezuela’s socialist regime, saying, “What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this.” The same Corbyn tweeted earlier this year, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Awkward.
  • Corbyn’s French counterpart, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, once hailed Maduro’s election victory as “an inspiration to us all” but has been conspicuously silent lately. A lawmaker for his France Unbowed party, Éric Coquerel, disputes that Maduro is a dictator, though: “Judgments can be made on political repression, judgments can also be made on how Maduro is trying to solve a difficult situation.” Is he?
  • Alessandro Di Battista, a leading member of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement, follows Corbyn’s lead in false equivalence, saying, “Both sides have made many mistakes.” Ornella Bertorotta, a senator for the same party, justified Maduro’s heavy hand, arguing the situation in Italy wasn’t much better with so many young people out of work.
  • The Dutch Socialist Party puts the blame entirely on Western countries, accusing the European Union and the United States of “fanning the flames” of unrest by refusing to recognize Venezuela’s phony Constituent Assembly and, in the case of America, imposing sanctions. The party’s Sadet Karabulut claims violence done by the opposition is “underreported” and dismisses allegations of voter fraud as an “internal affair”.