Jeremy Corbyn condemns Venezuelan violence but refuses to criticise President Nicolas Maduro

Jeremy Corbyn has condemned violence "by all sides" in the Venezuelan crisis but has refused to personally criticise President Nicolas Maduro as the South American country slides into crisis.

The Labour leader is facing mounting pressure to backtrack from his description of Mr Maduro as "an inspiration" three years ago.

Socialist Mr Maduro faces accusations he is moving towards a dictatorship after he created a new super-assembly stuffed with supporters - including his own wife and son - after an election that was widely decried as tampered.

He has also staged a brutal crackdown on opposition figures and moved to remove prominent critics in recent days.

Mr Corbyn today insisted that it was essential to recognise the "effective and serious attempts" to reduce poverty, improve literacy and the lives of the poorest in Venezuela despite the current crisis.

Asked whether he condemned Mr Maduro's actions, Mr Corbyn said: "What I condemn is the violence that's been done by any side, by all sides, in all this.

"Violence is not going to solve the issue."

Police retreat as protesters throw explosives during clashes. Credit: AP

Pressed on whether he regretted supporting Mr Maduro when he was elected, he said: "I gave the support of many people around the world for the principle of a government that was dedicated towards reducing inequality and improving the life chances of the poorest people."

Mr Corbyn said the current crisis was largely sparked by a failure to diversify the economy away from a on over-dependence on oil.

He called for "a dialogue and a process that respects the independence of the judiciary and respects the human rights of all" to resolve the current crisis.

And he added: "There has to be respect for the constitution and respect for the independence of the judiciary."

Mr Corbyn was criticised for his comments. Credit: PA

Mr Corbyn has faced renewed criticism including from Labour MPs over his stance following his latest comments.

Labour's Graham Jones, who chairs a new all-party parliamentary group on Venezuela, said the United Socialist Party of Venezuela of Mr Maduro "have destroyed an economy despite being oil rich,abused human rights and replaced democracy with authoritarianism backed by military might".

Angela Smith, another Labour member of the APPG, said: "The vitally important question is whether or not democracy can survive in Venezuela, given the recent actions of Maduro's government, and Corbyn needs to make it clear that he is on the side of democracy."

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have condemned Mr Corbyn's refusal to personally criticise Mr Maduro.

And Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Andres Mejia suggested Mr Corbyn does not understand his country's crisis.

"Violence has not been done by both sides. Violence has been promoted by the government," he told BBC Newsnight: