Chatting with Jeremy Corbyn

Brasil Observer - May 10 2016
Nota A
Photo: Ana Toledo

(Leia em Português)


By Guilherme Reis

On 30 April, the leader of Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn participated in a Latin American community event in London, at the El Vergel restaurant, in Southwark. After a 25 minute speech, he talked with Brazilian activists who have organized demonstrations against the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

The event was organized by Momentum Latino, one of the 120 Momentum groups created in the UK in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn campaign for leadership of the Labour Party last year. In addition to the participation of Corbyn, the event had musical performances and speeches by activists from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and the UK.

In a familiar environment full of children, it was pretty clear the affection of all who were there by Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader is married to a Mexican woman, Laura Alvarez, and speaks Spanish. And he has always maintained ties with Latin American exiles, including having actively participated in the episode that led to the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London on 16 October 1998.

At the high point of his speech, Jeremy Corbyn said: “When you offer people an opportunity of hope; when you offer people an opportunity of coming together, of a world based on justice and fairness rather than injustice, inequality and personal achievements on the expenses of the community, people begin to forget their differences and come together in a sense of unity. Times are changing. I want to approach next four years with a spirit of internationalism, with a spirit of bringing people together and a spirit of solidarity with those around the world who are going through very difficult times, being in Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and many parts of Africa. That’s how we make a difference.”

Then Corbyn praised the Latin American community: “That’s what so great about the Latin American community in London, it’s hard working, often exploited by employers and incredibly it stays together to support each other. That’s an example of what people can achieve together”.

After his speech, the leader of the Labour Party sat at the table with a group of Brazilian activists to talk about the current situation of Brazil. Victor Fraga led the conversation, beside Nara Filippon, Anna Maria Forsberg, Luciana Pontual, Michelle Portela e Carolina Paes.

Corbyn said he is not on top of everything that is happening in Brazil, but has been concerned about some issues he reads about the country. “One is the levels of injustice and corruption in Brazil; second is the power of media and the way President Dilma Rousseff has been crucified.”

With a little notebook in hand and writing down what he heard, Corbyn made a commitment to give a statement on the impeachment process in Brazil after he can gather more information about it, specially the legal aspect. This was the main request of the group of Brazilian activists.

During the conversation, the labour leader said the first time he visited Brazil was in 1969, during the military dictatorship. “In São Paulo, when the military regime was doing manoeuvres against the people, I was there on the demonstrations, I was there on the marches, and I knew what was going on. But first I went to Belém [in the Northern state of Pará]; from there I went to Brasília by road, then Rio, São Paulo, Campo Grande and further and further until Paraguay. It was a long time ago, I know, but I was mostly shocked by the beauty and the injustice”.

Corbyn also said that he returned to Brazil other times and recognizes the country’s problems, including the political forces that acted alongside the military regime – and still are in the national political scenario.