The pro-Tory press have once again used any excuse to discredit Jeremy Corbyn. This time, in response to his very reasonable statement on the current crisis in Venezuela. But by doing so, they’ve only exposed their own uselessness.
Jeremy Corbyn condemns violence on all sides
Asked about Venezuela’s crisis, the Labour leader said:
I am very sad at the lives that have been lost in Venezuela… The people that have died – either those on the streets or security forces that have been attacked by people on the streets… What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this.
Corbyn’s response comes in stark contrast to that of the international corporate media, which has preferred to suggest that the government of President Nicolás Maduro is responsible for all or most of the violence. The truth is that dozens of people have died on both sides in recent months during violent clashes between anti-government and pro-government forces (both citizens and authorities). And government authorities have reportedly been responsible for at least five deaths so far.
According to a recent poll in Venezuela, citizens overwhelmingly oppose the country’s violent protests and any international intervention to remove President Maduro.
Skewing Corbyn’s words
The UK’s corporate press wasn’t happy with Corbyn’s response, however. From The Sun to The Express, The Mail to The Times [Paywall], and The Telegraph to Sky News, the focus was a claim that the Labour leader had ‘refused to condemn Maduro’.
It was almost as if these outlets hadn’t noticed that Corbyn had clearly condemned violence on “all sides”.
But then again, this was no surprise from outlets that seem to treat some forms of violence differently from others. Any violence from a nominally socialist government, for example, is terrible. But the violence of Venezuela’s opposition, Western governments, or repressive Western-backed regimes is apparently fine.
Why the press want to associate Corbyn with Venezuela’s crisis
The Conservative Party and the UK press are so keen to associate Corbyn with Venezuela for two main reasons.
One is to scare voters into thinking the UK under Corbyn could turn into Venezuela. Even though the main cause of Venezuela’s current economic crisis was over-reliance on oil and the massive drop in oil prices (from $115 to under $35 a barrel) between 2014 and 2016. The UK, meanwhile, has a much more diverse economy. And Corbyn has recognised Venezuela’s problem himself, saying:
not enough has been done to diversify the economy away from oil
The second reason for the current press focus is the continuation of the anti-Corbyn campaign that has been underway since he first became Labour leader in 2015. A campaign that saw corporate media outlets try to link Corbyn to terrorism just before the 2017 general election. And a campaign that has consistently ignored the Labour leader’s history of supporting peace and negotiation. For example, he received the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award in 2013 for his “consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence”.
For the many, not the few?
The elements of Venezuela’s government that Corbyn has praised in the past, meanwhile, are actually very commendable achievements. These include halving the country’s poverty rates, eradicating illiteracy, guaranteeing free health care for all citizens, and building 1.5 million low-cost homes since 2011. But because Venezuela challenged the power of multinational corporations in the process, it created powerful enemies. As The Canary has previously reported, the US has long sought to destabilise the Venezuelan government by pushing large amounts of money into opposition hands.
Venezuela is only days away from the energy-guzzling US, and reportedly has the largest oil reserves in the world; along with a number of other natural resources. But in the last two decades, Venezuela’s ruling party has won victories over companies like ExxonMobil – the biggest oil corporation in the world. So now, US Secretary of State (and former ExxonMobil CEO) Rex Tillerson is making thinly veiled regime change threats. And the world’s corporate media seems to be backing this line.
All this comes in a decades-long context of US interference in Latin America, propping up right-wing dictatorships to promote corporate interests. Essentially, if governments bow down to big business, the US and its allies have no problem with human rights abuses. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Mexico are just a few current examples of such hypocrisy.
Condemning violence “done by any side”
If anything, Jeremy Corbyn is the most consistent person in the room. While condemning all sides involved in violence, he has consistently championed the cause of peaceful dialogue. And that’s something we can’t say about the world’s corporate media.
– Join or support the Stop the War Coalition. Show your support for Veterans for Peace, who are fighting for peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. And take action with the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Featured image via Flickr