We need to talk about Maduro

It is disgraceful when a country that prides itself on its human rights record and promises to always do better in the sphere of human rights has failed so miserably when it comes to its attitude towards Venezuela.

Nicholas Maduro has been starving his own people and turning the military onto those that step out of line. Many are stepping out of line because that is what happens when a government lets its people down so badly. People have the right to feel aggrieved when they are affected by shortages of medicines and food and are subject to hyper inflation, as a result of failed government policy.

Most New Zealanders will have a huge amount of sympathy for Venezuelans, and would want to support a change in their government that might put an end to their suffering. Most New Zealanders might feel that way, but our government does not. Our government, once more out of step with its allies, has not condemned the government of Maduro, nor has it recognised the legitimacy of Juan Guaido, who is trying to bring the country back to a situation approaching normality for the people of Venezuela.

USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and more than a handful of European countries have all acknowledged the government of Juan Guaido. We have not.

The people of Venezuela have suffered immeasurably under the government of Nicholas Maduro. No. Let us correct that. The people of Venezuela have suffered immeasurably under socialism?and that is the problem. Our government is a socialist government. Our prime minister is the former president of the Youth Wing of Socialist International. So yes, she is a pretty hard-left socialist. Even Socialist International has condemned Maduro. It seems that even some socialist organisations struggle with the way that socialists treat their own people when it comes to starving them or denying them life-saving medicines.

Our government has not budged on its position though. Along with China and Russia, we continue to acknowledge Maduro as the rightful president of Venezuela, even though, as admitted by Winston Peters at the time, the last lot of elections were certainly suspect.

We need to ask some serious questions of our government. We are a country that has a proud history when it comes to human rights. Some things cross the political divide, and this should be one of them. For us, left and right politics is more a subject of debate. Things can get heated, for sure. When it comes to people genuinely suffering, however, politics should take a back seat.

Not in Jacinda’s government though.

It is interesting that she can constantly criticise Donald Trump, when he is ostensibly the leader of the ‘free world’. She also finds herself able to criticise Australia for their treatment of the people on Manus Island, not to mention those on Nauru. It was all about human rights then. Do the people of Venezuela have no human rights, Jacinda? Even though they have no food, no medicines and are being attacked by their own military if they try to protest? Both Trump and Morrison have recognised Juan Guaido, along with Canada and parts of Europe.

Why do we care more about socialism than the rights of the people of Venezuela?

I care more about the rights of Venezuelans over socialism, Jacinda, and I think you will find that most New Zealanders do too. You are the one out of step here. You, and Winston, and most of the Green Party. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

But you are not. So much for human rights.