BRITAIN must not follow the US political agenda for regime change in Venezuela, solidarity campaigners warned yesterday as pressure mounted on President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist government.
The Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) urged the British government to facilitate dialogue for a peaceful solution instead of imposing punitive sanctions.
The call came as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson accused Mr Maduro of behaving like the “dictator of an evil regime” — despite Venezuelan people in their millions voting on Sunday in favour of a new national assembly proposed by Mr Maduro to debate the South American country’s future and write a new constitution.
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable was joined by two Labour backbenchers in calling for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to distance himself from Mr Maduro.
Following Sunday’s poll Labour’s shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes said: “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.”
The poll was met with another round of violent clashes — a continuation of the anti-government opposition-led protests which have gripped the country for the last four months and claimed the lives of over 100 people.
The Foreign Office withdrew the families of its embassy staff on Tuesday and issued advice for Britons to consider leaving the country.
In the face of the Venezuelan opposition, which called for a boycott of the elections and set up road blocks across the country to sabotage the vote, more than eight million people — a turnout of 41 per cent — went to the polls.
And on Sunday 43 international election observers called for governments of the world to “respect the sovereign decision and right of self-determination of the Venezuelan people,” in a joint statement.
Despite this, the US imposed personal sanctions on Mr Maduro, freezing his US assets and banning its citizens from doing business with him.
The VSC called for the international community to establish talks with Mr Maduro to resolve the country’s crisis.
A VSC spokesman told the Star: “Venezuela’s current difficulties are best resolved through dialogue as a way to peacefully address the problems the nation faces.
“Governments internationally should do all they can to facilitate and support such a dialogue.
“Instead, Trump is introducing unilateral US sanctions against Venezuela. These will not help the Venezuelan people but exacerbate the country’s difficulties.
“They are motivated by a political agenda of regime change and regaining US control of Venezuelan oil. Britain should not follow Trump’s lead.”