RECENT investigations have revealed that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been allowing the sale of spyware to the hard-right, anti-democratic government in Honduras.
The regime is currently engaged in a brutal crackdown on protests.
The Honduran state has received hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of British spyware that it has used to monitor, disrupt and prevent anti-government campaigning.
Protests against the results of a heavily disputed election have seen dozens of people lose their lives.
It’s not as if Boris Johnson’s department had no idea what would happen — violent repression has been routine since the National Party of Honduras took power following a coup in 2009.
This story is important for progressives in Britain because it reminds us that Latin American solidarity is much more than showing abstract support for distant foreign movements.
What we do here in Britain can have a direct material effect — for better or worse — on the fortunes of Latin America.
Across the hemisphere, politics is changing rapidly. In Brazil, the right-wing opposition orchestrated the undemocratic removal of Dilma Rousseff — the elected president, who was continuing to implement progressive reforms.
With the right wing now firmly in power without a single vote being cast, there has been a concerted effort to discredit, defame and persecute the country’s most popular politician. The right’s goal is to stop former president Lula da Silva from standing in the 2018 presidential election.
These are not simply questions of who governs, they are questions of who survives.
The new Brazilian government has laid off workers and implemented hard-line neoliberal policies that will squeeze living standards for millions of working people. They have replaced a government that took 40 million people out of poverty.
In Honduras, the coup government is not only viciously repressive against trade unions, women’s movements and other progressive organisations. Its vicious neoliberal policies mean two-thirds of its citizens now live below the breadline.
These problems have been exacerbated by the destructive role of foreign governments.
US meddling in Latin American politics is nothing new: CIA-backed death squads, military coups and both covert and open warfare are regular features of the region’s politics.
Infamous examples include the coup in Chile, the blockade of Cuba and the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.
The “pink tide” of reforming left-wing governments that emerged across the region throughout the 1990s and 2000s faced a sustained dirty tricks campaign from powerful vested interests who fear the redistribution of wealth and political power.
They were determined to retain their power and influence in order to continue plundering the region’s natural resources, so they sought to destabilise the popular new governments.
For those across the world who believe in social justice, it is a process we have a responsibility to defend.
The left and the labour movement has always had an internationalist outlook. People from different cultures, countries and creeds across the world are bound together by international solidarity.
That’s not just a buzz phrase, it’s the product of hard work, building links and understanding across borders between trade unions, social movements, political parties and all those striving for a better world.
It’s in that spirit that the Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America was formed. The aim is to strengthen awareness and support for movements struggling to advance social and economic justice in the region, and to provide an information resource for the entire labour movement.
In Parliament, MPs are working to hold the government to account when incidents like the Honduran spyware sales are exposed.
But we can be more effective in our parliamentary scrutiny of the government with the support of our movement behind us.
Our movement is founded on the principle of international solidarity. That is why this work is so essential, because when working people, and those living in poverty, make advances anywhere in the world, the whole world becomes a better place.
Chris Williamson is Labour MP for Derby North. Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America is committed to providing regular news and campaigning on Latin American solidarity. For more information visit labourfriendspla.wordpress.com, follow on Twitter @labourfplam or on Facebook at Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America.
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