Today, a record 19 million Venezuelans will be eligible to vote in their presidential election. Alongside this expansion of democracy, social programmes have delivered free healthcare for millions, eradicated illiteracy and lifted millions out of poverty. This year also marks 10 years since the temporarily successful US-backed coup against the Chavez-led government. Since then, we have seen attempts to undermine elected governments in Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras and Paraguay.
In Venezuela, US government interventions have continued, mainly through tens of millions of dollars of funding to right-wing opposition movements. There are concerns that some opposition movements may not recognise the outcome at the forthcoming election, which polls indicate Hugo Chavez is set to win, in an attempt to discredit the outcome and to isolate Venezuela internationally.
We believe the Venezuelan people alone should choose their government, and that governments worldwide should respect the results and engage constructively with the country.
Baroness Anne Gibson
Vice-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Latin America
General secretary designate, TUC
Gerald Kaufman MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Caroline Lucas MP
and 20 others
Hamish McRae says that it took the experience of the 1978/9 "winter of discontent" to "convince a majority of the population that we could not go on like this" (Economic View, 30 September). However, Margaret Thatcher won her first election in 1979 with only just over 43 per cent of the vote. This was followed by a term of office which began with inflation more than doubling to almost 22 per cent, at the same time that unemployment rose to three million plus. So were it not for the creation of the SDP and the Falklands War, it is doubtful whether the Conservatives would have won the next election. As it was, in both 1983 and 1987 they got a lower percentage of the vote than in May 1979, indicating that the support for change – radical to some, reactionary to others – certainly didn't amount to any majority.
I suspect that Katy Guest, Doug Johnstone and D J Taylor had their quills barbed before opening J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. I have read all 503 pages and admire it greatly. What Doug Johnstone calls a "gentle little potboiler" deals with the dark side of rural living – drug addiction, intolerance of difference, dysfunctional families, rape, self-harm, mental illness, truancy, domestic violence, paedophilia, bullying, poverty and racism. It is a Machiavellian thriller of English manners and deceit, summed up (on page 288) as "things denied, things untold, things hidden and disguised". JKR's novel is a cracking read and focuses on the third of the population that rarely gets a look in – those who live in the countryside.
Mark Rowe's description of the Walk of the Month in Glen Coe hints at some degree of seriousness (30 September). But it does not suggest that this is a walk for competent map-readers and hill walkers only in an area where even high-valley walks can be very demanding at this time of year. Since your map is misleading, I recommend the accessible Harvey's 1:25000 Glencoe map.
Midland clubs may be able to get 20,000-25,000 people at home games, but they cannot charge as much as the top clubs for each ticket, as supporters work in an economy which does not pay as well as it did in the 1970s ("The mighty Midlands are brought low", Sport, 30 September). The shrinking Midland economy in the past 30 years affected football club revenues, causing many to fall out of the top flight. Clubs here will struggle to compete with the big boys unless they can find a rich backer.
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Janet Street-Porter complains about being compared to a horse by The Sun, then refers to Danny Alexander as "the treasury geek who looks like a ginger chipmunk" (30 September). Does she really need to sink to The Sun's level?
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