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Sinn Féin defend backing Venezuelan president despite 40 deaths in civil unrest


Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has staunchly defend her backing Venezuelan president in spite of the civil unrest in the country.

The party stand with Russia and China in supporting President Nicholas Maduro who has spent recent days overseeing a display of military force.

According to the United Nations at least 40 people are believed to have been killed and 850 others detained in recent violence.

It is believed 26 were shot by government forces, five were killed in house raids and 11 died during looting.

Among those detained between January 21-26 are 77 children, some as young as 12.

But Ms McDonald said the people elected President Maduro and democracy must be respected.

“There is no doubt that Venezuela is in a state of absolute trauma. I’m very conscious that people are living hand to mouth,” she said.

“People have their own views on the policies of President Maduro. I’m sure they’ll also have a view on sanctions against that country.

“This is the bottom line: Venezuelan people decide who their present and then people can have a view of that person, good, back or indifferent.”

Sinn Féin has been heavily criticised for sending representatives to Maduro’s inauguration. Since then the United States, Canada, many Latin American nations and some European powers have called for fresh elections.

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However, Ms McDonald said the job of the international community is to uphold the democratic process that has already taken place.

Asked if she believed Maduro’s election was free and fair, she indicated that she believed so.

“I know there are others who take a contrary view. There were observers. Their view was that they were conducted with democratic standards. I wasn’t there so I’m not an eyewitness to these matters,” she said.

The Dublin TD called on the international community to offer assistance to the people rather than “cause further internal instability and further hardship”.

“Ultimately this is about oil. It’s about resources. Their country has become an ideological battleground.”

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