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Criticism is legitimate

PETER Smith rightly praises the efforts of the late Hugo Chavez who, during his presidency, most assuredly spent billions of dollars improving the lot of the poorest people of Venezuela (SA 8 Aug).

During his leadership nationalisation took place, basic foodstuffs were subsidised, free education and healthcare was made available and welfare for those in need was available.

All of this largesse was made possible by the country’s oil production and the fact that prices were at an historic high.

However, Chavez died in 2013 and was succeeded by Nicolas Maduro and it is what has happened to that country in the four years of Maduro’s rule which is now under the world’s microscope.

Peter is also right to state that Pinochet was undoubtedly a cruel dictator; however, the issue at hand is the rule of Maduro and his continuation of Chavez’s policies, albeit without the petro dollars to support his social programme.

The people of Venezuela are suffering grievously and Maduro’s answer is to stifle opposition, arrest and detain anyone who challenges his authority, rig elections and protect the Socialist elite (yes there really is such a group who enjoy privilege and wealth while the nation suffers).

Of course Peter would have us believe the elite is ‘right wing’ and capitalist; perhaps like Ken Livingstone he believes it would have been better if they had all been executed.

I hold no torch for Justin Tomlinson but he is right to condemn Maduro. Who knows, Justin may feel that Pinochet deserves similar opprobrium; I most certainly believe that. To proffer criticism of Maduro is perfectly legitimate, as a goodly number of Labour Parliamentarians have already done.

DES MORGAN, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Tories’ feudal view

THE feudal society of 12th century England was founded upon the universal belief that there were four levels of humans, royal, nobles, commoners and serfs, who were owned like dogs.

This distinction was one of genetic breeding, so it was not possible to move from one class to another, but when one married outside one’s class, that was strongly condemned and not fully accepted.

This belief about society then shaped the type of economy, that the higher orders owned all the land, wealth and everything else, because they were superior and deserved it.

That lasted hundreds of years, and millions of commoners accepted that belief all their life.

Only 25 per cent of the Conservative Party still hold this view of the human race, that superior breeding sets some persons above all the rest, and so deserve all the privileges and loot of rank.

The other 75 per cent of the Tories have discovered a new theory, that all rich people are superior to the rest of us, because money makes it so, regardless of breeding.

These Tories should be congratulated upon this awakening, to find a much wider view of humanity, that any crooked villain should be revered if he has billions.

This wealth then controls or destroys the lives of the lower classes. The right to vote is a tiny power.

Our nation’s economy is no longer based upon the idea of an unjust, divided society as before, but instead, today’s unjust society has been shaped by the corrupt market economy, which does not even pretend to be honest, compassionate or ethical.

CN WESTERMAN, Meadow Rise Brynna, Mid Glam

Take on the challenge

THIS time last year I was in Rio winning my second Olympic Gold medal. This year I’m taking on a new challenge, I’m volunteering with The Scout Association as a Scout Ambassador.

In Swindon there are hundreds of Scouts who are spending the summer having adventures and learning new skills.

We have challenged Scouts in Swindon to learn 50 new skills over the summer holiday.

But we think every child in the UK should have a go too. The skills they learn this summer may well help them save a life, get a job in years to come or maybe go on to become an Olympic champion.

The Scouts across Swindon are doing amazing things, but none of it would be possible without our amazing team of volunteers.

Some of the most influential people in my whole childhood were my Scout leaders, who I’m still in touch with now.

In Scouting young people develop independence, resilience and initiative - in short, essential life skills, employability skills and practical skills that will help them enjoy a brighter future. To take on the challenge visit

HELEN GLOVER, Double Olympic Champion and Scout Ambassador

Watch out for sharks

AS WE all meander through this dimension we call life and get to the later stages we reflect on what we should have done, might have done, and certainly what we could have done.

My dear friend Ken in our local the other night was getting annoyed at the young lads getting boisterous and one of them in particular.

I am a good friend of this young man’s father and they are a hard working, honest family.

The reason he was boisterous was that he was he was a staunch supporter of Arsenal. Apologies to Chelsea supporters.

Ken said, ‘I was like that when I had my first pint.’ I told him the boy was 24. We precede him in age by more than half a century.

Don’t ask me what I did in my flush of long gone youth. It’s easy in retrospect to state an opinion on 50 years of experience but not so easy when you are young and the world is your oyster.

But you soon find out that instead of the world being an oyster it is shark infested. Even at low tide.

BILL WILLIAMS, Merlin Way, Covingham, Swindon