One benefit of being a backbench MP is that it allows opportunity to take an interest in a wide range of issues across the world. For me, the politics of South America is just such an issue. Knew almost nothing at all about it until a lovely Colombian girl caught the eye of our No 2 son. Two Welsh x Colombian grandchildren called Leo and Lulu later, I’m much involved in promoting in the UK knowledge of and interest in all things Colombian.
Venezuela is next door to Colombia, and here politics has reduced what was a successful, wealthy country to a basket case in a truly shocking way. And amazingly, there are British politicians who are apologists for the Maduro regime that is systematically destroying democracy in what I’m told is a very beautiful country. Today, a delegation of three elected members of the Venezuelan National Assembly were in Westminster so I went along to spend an hour with them. They spoke despairingly of how democracy is being undermined. All I need to do is share some of the economic data.
Best guess of inflation is 800% - next year predicted to be 1200%%. GDP last year fell 12.5% 70% of business infrastructure has closed down. Hunger, malnutrition and poverty are increasing alarmingly. The President is refusing to release any official figures and allowing no money for the National Assembly to operate. The constitution and human rights have been violated. And a whole lot else. Over 2 million people have left Venezuela. It’s a tragic story, with no end in sight yet.
And yet, astonishingly, there are still apologists for the Maduro regime in leading positions in British politics - even now - apologists for where Marxist economics always ends up. They were lauding Hugo Chavez as a great Venezuelan leader when he was destroying the successful economy, successful country and genuine democracy he inherited. It’s always the people, especially the poorest people who pay the price of this tragic story of foolishness.