Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has thrown his support behind Nicolas Maduro as the Venezuelan president faces sanctions from the US over his "sham" election. Livingstone, 72, said Maduro's late predecessor Hugo Chávez, who Livingstone organised na oil deal with in 2007, failed to "execute the establishment elite".
"I think there's a lot of rumours they've been blocking the important food and medicines and things like that because they control a lot of the companies... And America has got a long record of undermining any left-wing government as well. So I suspect it's not all just down to the problems of the [Venezuelan] government," he told The Times.
Livingstone also added "oh God, yes" when asked if he supported Maduro, who plans to form new legislative body, which can rewrite Venezuela's and overrule the opposition-led National Assembly. More than 100 people have died in violent protests in Caracas between anti-government activists and riot police.
The Trump administration announced the new sanctions against Maduro after Venezuelan electorate backed the creation of the Constituent Assembly. But the opposition boycotted the vote and Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, said the move was "another step toward dictatorship".
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for urgent action against on Maduro on Monday (31 July).
"Venezuela stands on the brink of disaster and Nicholas Maduro's government must stop before it is too late," he said.
"The country is turning on itself – more than 100 have died already – and democracy and basic rights are in jeopardy. The dubious Constituent Assembly vote has dramatically deepened the problems and ramped up tensions.
"It is time for the government to see sense and start working with the opposition on a way forward that brings the people of Venezuela back together."
Livingstone, meanwhile, is suspended from the Labour Party until April 2018 after his claimed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was a supporter of Zionism – the establishment of a Jewish state – in the 1930s. Jeremy Corbyn, an ally of Livingstone's and supporter of Chávez, has not spoken out against Maduro's power grab.