Gabriel Boric: “It makes me angry when you’re on the left and you can’t talk about Venezuela or Nicaragua”

Gabriel Boric upped the ante against Venezuela. During a participation at Columbia University in New York, the president of Chile insisted with his criticism of the human rights violations committed by the government of Nicolás Maduro and also in Nicaragua. Being on the left, he said, should not prevent him from expressing his opinions, despite the fact that in Chile many tell him that “one should not speak ill of friends.” “It makes me angry when you are from the left and you can condemn human rights violations in Yemen or El Salvador, but you cannot talk about Venezuela or Nicaragua… or Chile. In Chile we had serious violations of Human Rights in the social outbreak [de 2019], we cannot have a double standard,” he said Thursday. On Tuesday, before the UN General Assembly, Boric had accused Venezuela of causing “tremendous pressure” on Chile, as a result of the thousands of Venezuelans who entered the country fleeing the humanitarian crisis.

Boric’s statements before the Assembly had already had an impact in Caracas. Congressman Diosdado Cabello, the government’s second strong man, accused the Chilean president of talking “bullshit” before world leaders gathered in New York. “If they think we are going to capitulate because a fool like Boric came out to talk nonsense about Venezuela, they are wrong, a gafo, going out to talk badly about Venezuela, having so many problems, a historical debt with the Mapuche populations, and what he does is leave to persecute them,” said Cabello. For the Venezuelan deputy, Boric spoke badly about Venezuela “to look good with the gringos.” “It’s quite ridiculous,” he said.

Boric is the Latin American leftist leader who has distanced himself the most from Caracas, even during the electoral campaign that brought him to the presidency last March. His position has brought him into conflict with the most extreme sectors of his government coalition, such as the Communist Party. On Thursday afternoon, before a university audience, he did not respond to Cabello and insisted on criticizing him. He recalled that the last time he visited Venezuela was in 2010, when Hugo Chávez was still in the Miraflores Palace. “I began to ask myself questions about Venezuela when I saw the repression of the protests, the manipulation of some elections, and I thought this was not right. We have to criticize this, and people on the left in Chile said ‘no, no, no. We don’t talk about our friends.’ I think this is completely wrong,” he said.

He then asked to avoid double standards. “If we want a future in which the leftist parties have only one moral standard, in the world and in Latin America, especially for Human Rights, we cannot condemn what some states or the United States are doing, if you are not capable of seeing what what your allies or who you think your allies are doing,” Boric argued.

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