‘Totally divided’: how Venezuela’s crisis split the Latin American left
After months of political turmoil in the country, Latin Americas once broadly united leftist movement is in disarray
In her first international speech as the president of Brazils powerful Workers party, Gleisi Hoffmann waded immediately into controversy when she voiced uncompromising support for Venezuelas president Nicols Maduro.
Addressing the So Paulo Forum an annual gathering of leftwing parties in Managu in July Hoffmann said Venezuela faced a violent offensive by the right and endorsed a controversial new constituent assembly which Maduros critics have described as a bare-faced grab for power.
The new body, which was installed last week amid protests from as many as 40 countries, would contribute to an ever greater consolidation of the Bolivarian revolution, Hoffmann said.
In a continent whose recent history is littered with rightwing coups, military dictatorships and US interference, such reflexive support made sense to many on the left. For them, Venezuela remains a symbol of anti-imperialist resistance much as Cuba once did.
But to others, Hoffmanns speech was an indefensible endorsement of a government accused of growing authoritarianism and violence against its own people.
This week the United Nations said 5,000 people have been arbitrarily detained in Venezuela since April and outlined credible reports of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by security forces. The countrys economy is in freefall, while shortages of food and medicine have triggered a humanitarian crisis.
And after four months of political turmoil in Venezuela, the steady erosion of human rights has left Latin American leftists once broadly united behind its charismatic late leader Hugo Chvez in disarray.
The left is totally divided, said Leonardo Valente, a professor of international relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.