SOLIDARITY campaigners blasted London mayoral hopeful Boris Johnson on Wednesday for calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a “left-wing dictator.”
In a letter to Mr Johnson, the London branch of Hands Off Venezuela said that he showed “great ignorance that should worry every resident of this city,” pointing out that “Chavez has won over 10 electoral processes in a row and is overwhelmingly popular among the people of Venezuela – especially the poor majority.”
It added: “Of course, your party has never been very concerned with the poor of any country, including Britain.”
At his campaign launch last week, the MP for Henley criticised the incumbent Ken Livingstone for his oil deal with Venezuela, in which unemployed Londoners saw their bus fares slashed in half in return for technical advice from the Greater London Authority (GLA) on public transport, tourism, recycling and development.
The letter urged Mr Johnson not to “throw around wild accusations in the hope of scoring a few cheap political points” against Mayor Livingstone, “who has served the interests of Londoners very well in his dealings with the Venezuelan president.”
The group previously sent a similar letter to GLA Tory leader Angie Bray, who had described President Chavez as a “dictator with a monstrous human rights record.”
It also challenged her to defend her party’s close relationship with the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who Tory ex-premier Margaret Thatcher once claimed had “brought democracy to Chile.”
The group told Ms Bray: “Your ignorance is only exceeded by your hypocrisy.”