Corbyn: Progressives must unite against neoliberal forces as pandemic worsens inequality

JEREMY Corbyn and Rafael Correa have called for the global left to unite against the power of multinational corporations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Labour leader and former Ecuadorian president, speaking at an Arise Festival event last week, also highlighted the challenges of being a progressive leader in nations with external or internal neoliberal pressure.

During the conversation – “The US, Latin America, neo-liberalism & alternatives today” – Corbyn highlighted the treatment his Ecuadorian counterpart received after his tenure, despite his acheivements.

“In the case of Ecuador, you won an election, you opposed neoliberalism, you opposed having a US base in the country, you protected and improved the environment, you protected and improved the living standards of the poorest.

“What’s not to like about that? If you’re an American company, there’s an awful lot not to like!”

Correa was arrested in 2018 after failing to appear in court in a trial surrounding the kidnapping of his political opponent Fernando Balda – an allegation he strongly denies.

Corbyn added: “You were forced out by ‘lawfare’, the new form of coup. In the past, the army was used in every country in Latin America.

“The new form is lawfare, where you ensnare somebody in endless strings of legalism that they cannot get out of and the government needs to change.

“Methods have been used to destroy progressive movements like Rafael’s, also in Brazil and Bolivia. I get very angry when people describe themselves as nobody – nobody is nobody.

“We need a movement in global solidarity with those trying to bring about justice, such as those in Bolivia.

“Unite on the environment, healthcare, social justice and against the power of global corporations that try to undermine what we fight for.”

The leftist duo also highlighted the effect of the pandemic on progressive momvements.

Correa, a three-term president of Ecuador, said: “If there was something that the pandemic taught us, it is that the invisible hand is so invisible that no-one has seen it so far. Inequality is the result of a visible hand.”

Corbyn added: “The global corporations and neoliberal forces will exploit every issue and the wealth gap in every country has grown bigger during the Covid crisis.

“The way you described markets is so important – they’re a place where you buy and sell things. If you allow your entire philosophy to be dominated by that, you end up with a dog-eat-dog society.

“Instead, if you look at the needs of our people, our world in terms of living standards, cultural development.

“A good society is one that cares for all, and one that unites us all.

“The lessons of the crisis are this – unless you have global healthcare, sharing of science and medicine, the deaths rate will rise, for everyone. The only way forward is universal healthcare.”

Correa also spoke of the double standards of the international community when dealing with conservative and socialist governments.

While leaders on the right – often backed by Washington – are forgiven for their actions, those on the left appear to be held to the highest moral standard.

Correa himself was criticised for his response to the 2015 protests, after which his approval ratings plummeted to 45%.

“We need an international system with one single morality because of the phenomenon of these times – that everything has been ideologised,” he said.

“There is no objective truth anymore – if there is a violation of rights in some country done by the right then there is no problem, but if the left have supposedly done it, then it is very wrong.”

Featured Image: Jeremy Corbyn @Flickr

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