As we saw yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn is a big Putin booster. That being the case, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s also an ardent admirer of Venezuela’s chavista government.
Never mind that Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, have declared war on individual liberty, trashed human rights, jailed opposition leaders, and sponsored terrorist cells; never mind that they’ve taken crime and corruption to new heights, surrounding themselves with grasping, cartoonish thugs who will apparently do anything to anybody to put a few more céntimos in their pockets; never mind that their ideologically driven economic policies have made their oil-rich nation inconceivably poor, depriving ordinary citizens of desperately needed medications and emptying the supermarket shelves of basic goods. No, forget all that: to dogmatic socialists like Corbyn, what matters is the ideology itself, not its real-world consequences.
To be sure, like many other dogmatic socialists, Corbyn has apparently managed to convince himself that the real-world consequences of chavista ideology have been just dandy. He’s praised Venezuela as “an example of what social justice can achieve.” In 2009, he lauded Chávez for “seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting the Neo Liberal policies of the world’s financial institutions.” In 2012, he traveled to Caracas so he could be there in person to celebrate Chávez’s re-election. Upon Chávez’s death in March 2013, Corbyn tweeted: “Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.”
His zeal for chavismo didn’t end with the death of Chávez. Last year, Corbyn called into Maduro’s weekly radio show to eulogize the just-deceased UK socialist honcho Tony Benn, and they talked like old buddies, taking turns trashing capitalism, lauding the politics of Benn and Chávez, and patting each other on the back. This year, Corbyn said the following: “When we celebrate, and it is a cause for celebration, the achievements of Venezuela, in jobs, in housing, in health, in education, but above all its role in the whole world as a completely different place, then we do that because we recognise what they have achieved.”
Corbyn’s devotion to the chavista cause has not gone unnoticed in Britain. This past July, only weeks before he became party boss, a Labour MP unhappy with the prospects of a Corbyn victory told a Telegraph reporter that if the man from Islington were to win, it would be “an absolute disaster. The first thing on his agenda will probably be twinning the UK with Venezuela.” In August, Corbyn won the endorsement of a British group called Hands Off Venezuela, which cheered him as “a long standing supporter of the Bolivarian revolution.” Indeed, the group went even further, stating that “[t]he spirit of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign, in a certain sense, is the spirit of the Bolivarian revolution being brought into British politics: the struggle against oppression, injustice, exploitation, imperialism and war, and in defence of health care, education, housing for all, the struggle for socialism.”
Well, here we go. Somewhere up there, Chávez is smiling.