Expatriates criticise Irish support for Venezuelan referendum

International observers should visit country and ‘see human rights being violated’

 Opponents say the recent referendum has effectively given Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro dictatorial powers. Photograph: Miraflores Press/EPA/

Opponents say the recent referendum has effectively given Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro dictatorial powers. Photograph: Miraflores Press/EPA/

 

Members of the Venezuelan community in Ireland have criticised Irish supporters of the country’s president Nicolás Maduro.

A protest will be staged in Herbert Park, Dublin, on Thursday by some in the community against a new constitutional assembly which was backed in a recent referendum.

Opponents say the outcome was rigged and effectively grants Mr Maduro dictatorial powers.

Angelisa Zerpa, one of the organisers of the protest, said Irish supporters of the Venezuelan community should “stop supporting a system from the comfort of their houses” and visit the country to see what it is really like.

“They are denying the fact that more than 100 people have been killed in protests. They are denying that there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and that people there cannot find food or medicines,” she said.

“They are supporting something that is violating the human rights of people. These people have not had the opportunity to go to Venezuela and experience from an objective point of view what is happening.”

However, Irish observers of the recent referendum process said they were satisfied the outcome was a fair one.

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady described the referendum as “fair and equitable” while Siptu’s Andrew Kane said he witnessed huge queues to vote in the poorer sections of the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

He concluded: “The international news of a country on the verge of civil war seem at odds with a city that had returned to its hectic, chaotic and vibrant self.”

The Workers’ Party of Ireland also strongly backed Mr Maduro. Its spokesman Gavin Mendel-Gleason accused the international media of “dishonest, biased and unprofessional reporting” about the present government.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to condemn the Venezuelan government when pressed.

Ms Zerpa said international observers of the recent referendum had been shown only what the Venezuelan government wanted them to see.

She said 1,400 members of the community in Ireland had voted as expatriates in the referendum and “99.9 per cent” of them had voted in opposition to the supposed constitutional assembly which now has more power than the opposition-led congress.

Ms Zerpa suggested continuing support for Mr Maduro’s government was “disrespectful to the people who are suffering in Venezuela”.

Fraud

Jorge De Vega, another member of the community, said the referendum was demonstrably a fraud as evidenced by the company, Smartmatic, which provided software for use in previous Venezuelan elections. It says the turnout could never have been as high as the Venezuelan government had claimed.

Mr De Vega said Irish supporters were simply wrong to back the present government .

“Honestly, I cannot understand that. It is not left or right wing. This is not about political positions. This is about human rights. Human rights are being violated,” he said.

The protest takes place on August 10th at 6.30pm in Herbert Park, Dublin.