British Government Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron and over 40 Parliamentarians attended a House of Commons reception on 13 May to mark a decade of social progress in Venezuela under the Hugo Chávez-led government. They were joined by more than 100 personalities from the media, trade unions and the wider Labour Party.
At the reception, Gillian Merron MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office said:
"We all welcome policies that help the most vulnerable and the poorest people in our communities — wherever those communities might be. That is why we very much welcome the efforts of President Chavez, democratically backed by the people, to help the most needy in Venezuelan society. Those efforts undoubtedly have our support."
She explained that the British governments engages "with Venezuela on many social justice initiatives" and called for more "communication and co-operation" so that both countries "work closer and better together for the benefit of both of our peoples."
Tony Lloyd MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, describing a visit to Venezuela in the 1990's prior to the election of the Hugo Chávez government said:
"Anybody who went to the barrios outside of Caracas and saw the abject miserable poverty in which people were spending their lives, would understand why change was so necessary in Venezuela"
He explained that the Hugo Chávez government "is supported by the majority of the people in Venezuela. He added that "what is taking in Venezuela is a beacon…that every one of us wants to look up to and to embrace".
Colin Burgon MP, Chair of the Labour Friends of Venezuela group of MPs, which organised the reception, explained that "in Parliament we have been able to build a strong group on MPs that expresses an interest in the progressive developments in Venezuela." He explained that this is necessary "to combat the incessant propaganda that has been unleashed by the right-wing throughout the world against Hugo Chávez and his government in Venezuela"
He added that "Latin America has been subjected to neo-liberalism longer than almost any other Continent in the world – and it is truly heartening to see how the masses of the people have risen up against it."
Venezuelan Ambassador to Britain Samuel Moncada addressing the reception explained that his government was seeking "to change for the better the livings conditions of the Venezuelan majority" and that this has been done "through democratic means, expanding political freedoms and strengthening social and economic rights."
He praised the support that exists in British society for the progressive change in Venezuela adding that "It will be with your solidarity that we shall continue to work together for social progress."