Celebrities support Spanish pop star
More than 100 celebrities signed a letter protesting Venezuela’s decision to cancel Alejandro Sanz’s concert planned for 14 February 2008. ‘The cancellation of the concert smacked of censorship’, stated the Latin Grammy music awards organisation.
Grammy-winning Alejandro Sanz is one of Latin America’s most popular singers. However, he has not been welcome in Venezuela since he criticised the politics of the country’s president, Hugo Chavez, in 2004.
The controversy started when Sanz accused Hugo Chavez of trying to stymie a nationwide campaign for a recall referendum against the president. In 2007, government officials banned a Sanz concert after saying the venue, a state-run stadium, was an inappropriate place to host a Chavez critic.
Members of a branch of the mayor’s office in Caracas stated that they would prohibit his next concert and declare Sanz a “persona non grata in the entire country.”
At that time, the artist said that he would come back to Venezuela to perform when Chávez was out of power.
His promoters in Venezuela nevertheless began planning for a concert in Caracas on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2008. When the concert was suddenly cancelled by its promoters they gave no reason for the decision.
Over one hundred celebrities from the singer Shakira, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, latin music super stars Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin, Hollywood star Penelope Cruz to soccer star David Beckham backed the Spanish pop star by signing a letter released by Sanz’s publicity office, protesting Venezuela’s decision to cancel the February concert.
“Because we believe in a Latin America where we should be free to express our opinions … we hope in our hearts that this problem is resolved,” the letter said.
Hugo Chávez has been accused of attacking freedom of the press particularly when he closed a critical tv station last year by not renewing its license to operate.