I have invited Assembly Members and staff to a meeting tonight to discuss the setting up an All-Party Group on Latin America with a launch reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution, and the 10th anniversary of the election of Hugo Chavez as President of Venezuela.
Peter Black has criticised the event on his blog. His post 'Supporting the Dictators' can be read here. Hugo Chavez is not a dictator and there is more to Cuba than just Fidel or Raul Castro. The event and group are about building solidarity with two socialist administrations that would collapse if they did not have massive popular support.
Hugo Chavez has been repeatedly elected in Venezuela through internationally monitored free and fair elections, with huge majorities. When he did lose a referendum he accepted the result. The assertion that Chavez has sought election as 'President for life' is also untrue. He supported a referendum on removing term limits, which has given Venezuelan officials (including anti-Chavez politicians) the same right to run for office that politicians in the UK have.
Cuba of course is not a liberal democracy like the UK, United States or other Western countries are. If Peter had been to Cuba he would see that there is a different kind of participatory democracy evident at all levels of society. Of course progress can be made with regards to personal freedoms, but its unclear how such progrss can take place under the current economic blockade and consistent interference by the USA, a country that still wishes Cuba was under its sphere of control.
The context that the socialist administrations in Venezuela and Cuba are developing in is entirely different from here in Wales. Programmes which have taught all people to read and write and measures to ensure all have access to good quality healthcare and education that is worth supporting and that is why I am backing a group at the Assembly to build links and solidarity with these struggles.