Venezuelan nationals in Paris have denounced far left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon who recently praised former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Venezuelan expatriates are outraged over Mélenchon’s support of the deceased former president, some claiming he also supports the same style of economics which led to the economic disaster currently engulfing the South American country. Dozens of Parisian Venezuelans attended a protest against the socialist regime Wednesday and many were deeply critical of the presidential candidate, Le Figaro reports.
On a promenade known as the Queen’s Path in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, dozens protested the Chavista regime, in solidarity with protestors in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, in front of the statue of South American general and politician Simón de Bolívar. Protestors carried signs asking for the release of political prisoners and expressed distaste for Mélenchon’s romanticisation of their country.
“Mélenchon talks about a Venezuela that does not exist,” one protestor said. “He feeds his fantasies of a South American revolution in the history of a country where some inhabitants are no longer even able to take care of themselves because there have been no medicine in pharmacies and hospitals for months.”
Mélenchon recently attempted to backtrack on his statements about the regime telling newspaper Ouest France: “Venezuela had a social-democratic policy. No one was expropriated. There has never been a nationalisation either. I supported Chavez against the aggression of the Americans. And today the problem of this country is, first of all, the fall in the price of oil. I have nothing to do with it!”
Despite his comments, Mélenchon’s own policy shows a support for Chavism. Proposal number 62 in his campaign would see France attempt to join the Bolivian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) organisation founded by Hugo Chavez which seeks to create solidarity between socialist countries like Cuba and Bolivia.
Chavista critic Paula Osorio, who has lived in Paris for the past ten years, said: “Mélenchon continues to defend a regime guilty of multiple violations of human rights. Every time he talks about it, Mélenchon describes Chavez as a great humanist. Everyone knows this is not true.”
Francisco Moreno, a former Venezuelan oil executive, also had harsh words for the far-left candidate saying: “He lies to himself because he found in his support Chavez a share of romanticism that nourishes him in his political struggle.”
He added: “This blindness to my country is insulting to all suffering Venezuelans.”
Earlier in the race, Mélenchon was not considered to be a serious contender, but after a series of successful debate performances, his polling numbers have put him in the contention for the first round.
The polls have some, including Paris’s wealthy elites, on edge due to his tax plans which could see salary caps and a tax of up to 90 per cent on those making over €400,000 a year.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org