with Venezuela that provides half price bus fares for London ’s poorest
citizens. Fares for those on Income Support are expected to double by
the end of year, causing serious financial hardship for 80,000
Londoners who had taken advantage of the scheme.
timing of the announcement, coming on the Sunday of a Bank Holiday
weekend, is designed to minimise publicity for the move and avoid
damaging the electoral prospects of Britain’s resurgent Conservative
agreement, which was negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor, Ken
Livingstone, bartered London's strategic advice on city planning for
cheap Venezuelan oil.
a statement issued today, Ken Livingstone condemned Boris Johnson for
ending the agreement. “The fact that the first significant action by
Johnson's Tory regime is against the poorest people in the capital is
highly significant,” Livingstone said.
suggestion that Johnson is motivated by any concern about the people of
Venezuela is just a lie shown by the fact that he is withdrawing all
technical support and advice provided by London under this agreement.”
Johnson’s claim that the oil deal exploited Venezuela’s poor was also
dismissed by the Venezuela Information Centre, a British-based
solidarity organisation. VIC Secretary Gordon Hutchinson told 21st
Century Socialism that the deal was “a shining example of city to city
co-operation, which cut out the transnational corporations and
middle-men and benefited the people of both cities.”
socialist president, Hugo Chavez, has used the proceeds from record oil
revenues to roll out free health and education services across the
country. Incomes for the poorest 60% of Venezuelans have risen by 130%
in real terms, according to surveys conducted for the Venezuelan
American Chamber of Commerce.
Conservative Party has a long history of opposing social and economic
justice in Latin America. Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was
a personal friend and advisor to the Chilean dictator, General
Pinochet. And in May 2006, the Conservative group on the Greater London
Assembly issued an invitation to a Venezuelan oppositionist who
advocates the use of “barbaric practices” against supporters of
Venezuelan democracy and compares rehimself to the 13th century Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan.