Jeremy Corbyn received a standing ovation from a large crowd at the ‘El Sueno Existe’ (‘The Dream Exists’) festival in Machynlleth, mid-Wales, at the weekend.
Speaking at length without notes, the Labour leader was visibly moved when recalling his experience on a May Day march in Santiago shortly before the election of Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1970. He recounted some of the achievements of Allende’s Popular Unity government in health, education, land reform and through the nationalisation of key industries such as copper before progress was halted by a US-backed military coup in 1973.
Mr Corbyn paid tribute to Victor Jara who was tortured and murdered by the brutal regime of General Pinochet that followed. The Machynlleth festival is held every year in honour of the now legendary Communist musician and singer. ‘The dictatorship had to silence his inspirational voice and lyrics’, the Labour leader pointed out, but ‘the dream still exists of a better world of peace, human rights and social justice’. ‘The Chilean people are now free from military rule and the struggle for liberation in Latin America continues with the election of President Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico’, added Mr Corbyn, who attended the president’s inauguration last December with his Mexican-born partner Laura Alvarez.
Also speaking at El Sueno, Dr Francisco Dominguez brought news from Venezuela that President Nicolas Maduro is weathering the storms unleashed by the US-backed right-wing opposition. ‘Popular support for the anti-imperialist government and its policies remains strong, while the opposition has been divided and widely discredited by its open calls for foreign intervention and its fear of the fresh elections now offered by President Maduro’, he reported.
A well-attended Communist Party meeting at the Machynlleth festival heard the party’s general secretary Robert Griffiths put the democratic, left-wing and anti-imperialist case against continuing membership of the European Union. In a fully bilingual speech, in Welsh and English, he outlined the decision-making powers that would come directly from Brussels to the Welsh National Assembly as the result of Brexit in 70 policy areas including energy, water resources, transport services, land use, planning consent, forestry and environmental protection.
‘But we also need federalism in Britain to ensure that repatriated powers of state aid and agricultural support are shared – and we need left-led governments in London and Cardiff that are determined to take those powers back from the EU and use them in the interests of the people rather than big business’, Mr Griffiths declared.