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Taking the wind out of an overblown pop star

Heh, heh, heh. Didn't see this coming, did anyone now?

Hugo Chavez says Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz is welcome to perform at his presidential palace and denied Thursday that his government retaliated against the Latin Grammy winner because of critical comments he made.

More than 80 performers and other celebrities signed a statement supporting Sanz after his concerts were cancelled in Venezuela. Signers including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Penelope Cruz and even soccer star David Beckham said they "believe in a Latin America where we are all free to express our views."

Venezuelan organizers said Sanz's sold-out Feb. 14 concert in Caracas was cancelled because it lacked "the appropriate conditions." The announcement came after government officials said Sanz would not be allowed to hold the concert at the state-controlled stadium because of his past criticism of Chavez.

Chavez denied any attempt to censor or retaliate against Sanz. "Come here and sing in Miraflores," he said, referring to Venezuela's presidential palace.

Aporrea has more:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, said on Thursday that the Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz and the Argentine singer/songwriter Fito Paez were "victims" of an international "mediatic war" which had targeted his government, and invited them to sing "together" in the Plaza Bicentenario adjacent to the Venezulean presidential palace, according to a newswire from DPA.

[...]

"No, Mr. Sanz, come here if you want, sing in Miraflores (the presidential palace), I'll lend you the Plaza Bicentenario so you can sing and say whatever you want," Chavez affirmed, in a message broadcast over all radio and television channels.

Chavez assured that he doesn't have time to occupy himself with such matters, and the only singer he knows is himself, adding that "I sing very badly".

Sanz had planned a concert on the 14th of February in the Poliedro, the biggest concert hall in Caracas, but it was cancelled for what were termed "security reasons", since the Spaniard had been declared persona non grata by the city's municipal council.

A planned concert for November had been suspended for lack of authorization from the Poliedro, recalling Sanz's criticisms against Chavez upon his last visit in 2004, when Sanz said he had collected a million signatures to let him sing what he wanted. He was referring to a petition leading up to the referendum on whether Chavez's mandate to govern should be revoked that same year.

Chavez also said that he had read some of Fito Paez's declarations, which called him "an out-of-date caudillo" and said that he was intolerant of dissent.

"He went out saying that here we persecute dissent, I think he's been manipulated. Just think how bad the mediatic war has gotten by feeding off the declaration of this singer. Fito Paez, come here and let's sing together. Go get your guitar," Chavez said.

Translation mine; you can also hear Chavez's words from his own mouth there.

Gee, I wonder what Alejandro Sanz is gonna do now. Pluck up his cojones and sing for the legitimately elected president he so despises, or just pick up his marbles and go home, and go on pretending that he's being kept out by an evil oppressor who doesn't actually exist? Chavez didn't bar him; it was the city authorities of Caracas, and seeing how they've had to deal with any number of anti-Chavez demonstrations that got violently out of hand, it's kind of understandable that they'd be antsy about any foreigner with openly declared oppositionist sympathies. Especially ones so rudely expressed. (I've read on Aporrea that Sanz also at one point wore a black t-shirt inviting Chavez to "suck my dick". Classy dude, that Sanz.)

And shame, shame, shame on Fito Paez. I hadn't heard about him saying those things he did, but it seems he is just as poorly educated as that snotty little punk Sanz. And that's really embarrassing, because Paez is several cuts above Sanz as an artist and a human being both. He of all people should have taken Sanz up short and told him that his so-called "persecution" is nothing of the sort. Because Fito Paez has been a real-life victim of political persecution, during the Argentine junta dictatorship of 1976-83, and therefore he of all people should know the bloody difference between a concert being cancelled by municipal authorities uncertain that they could provide enough security, and someone actually trying to silence dissent.

I'm with Chavecito--Fito, you are the victim of a campaign of lies. Look around you: have you heard a peep out of Gilberto Gil, the Brazilian minister of culture, to the effect that Chavez is a tyrant? Like you, Gil is a popular musician and a former victim of Operation Condor and the military dictatorship in his native land. He was imprisoned and tortured, then sent into exile, and all just for playing rock music. Yet he's said nothing bad about Chavecito. In fact, he's even appeared at the same World Social Forum as Chavecito. One would think he'd boycott it if he felt the man was an actual caudillo, in light of his prior experiences. Isn't that rather telling? (I'll tell you what else is telling: this, in which Gil and President Lula at one time mulled a law to rein in Brazil's insane right-wing media whores. Which, incidentally, is a lot more than Chavecito ever did to anyone, even ArsyTV. Not a peep was heard up here criticizing that!)

Chavecito wouldn't stop Fito from singing "Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazon"; in fact, I suspect he'd identify strongly with it. I know I do, and have done ever since I heard Lhasa de Sela singing it, with that incredible contralto of hers, in The Take. How lovely it would be if Fito Paez could sing it in Caracas, to a crowd of Chavistas. I sadly suspect he's soured his own chances there, now. (He certainly has with at least one former fan.)

Oh, and all the rest of you pop tarts? You might want to educate yourselves about Venezuela before you sign any more pathetic little statements criticizing a man you don't know the first thing about. Everyone IS free to express their views there (however stupid, however inane and however much the result of US government propaganda they might be.) Just pick up any newspaper or turn on any channel there and you'll see so much hatred that you won't believe your heavily made-up eyes. But it won't be coming from Chavez, it'll be directed at him, and most of it will be coming from overprivileged, undertalented snotballs who are virtually indistinguishable, in looks and half-baked ideas alike, from you.

Think before you speak, lest your words come back to hit you in the pocketbook.