Venezuela’s Chavista government has always prided itself on having friends in Hollywood, most notably Sean Penn and Oliver Stone. That tide has begun to turn.
After condemning Nicolás Maduro during the Oscars, actor Kevin Spacey wrote a post on his blog calling for Americans to stand with protesters under Maduro’s repressive yoke.
“We who are fortunate enough to live in freedom must stand up to oppression and injustice and remind the Venezuelan people that they are on the right side of history,” wrote the House of Cards star on his blog this weekend. The post’s tone was humble; Spacey does not appear to speak up because of his celebrity status, but instead as a function of living in a free society and understanding that governments cannot be tolerated when they deny their people basic human rights.
Spacey outlines the basics of the current Venezuelan uprisings: after the arrest of Popular Will leader Leopoldo López, Venezuelans began taking to the streets to call for his freedom, and the subsequent torture, repression, and violence coupled with the country’s economic situation has brought the situation to a head.
Spacey notes “chronic food shortages, the highest inflation in the world, and ongoing censorship of the media. Even the Oscars were not allowed to be broadcast-for the first time in Venezuelan history.” Spacey had previously voiced solidarity with nonviolent student protesters in the country after Maduro banned the broadcast of the Oscars in that country.
“I support all of the Venezuelans who peacefully and non-violently claim their right to self-determination and protest. I hope you will join me in asking them not to give up and to not become numb to the violations and abuses committed against them,” Spacey writes in conclusion. He urges Americans to “show your support in whatever way you can,” rather than requesting donations to any particular group or a specific cause of action.
Spacey’s post follows, as previously noted, his statement in solidarity with the movement after the Oscars, though even that was eclipsed by Jared Leto using his victory speech for best supporting actor to urge protesters to keep fighting.
The combined efforts of the two signal a demonstrative shift right for Hollywood, particularly in light of older actors remaining loyal to the socialist regime. Sean Penn, for example, will begin teaching acting classes in Caracas at an undetermined time in the near future, Maduro announced.
Leopoldo López, who remains in prison, published a column in El Pais today calling for intervention from the international community. Titled “I Have No Fear, They Took That From Us Too,” López recalls how, this week, his two-year-old son took his first steps in the prison in which López is held and occasionally allowed to see his family, calling for Venezuelans to fight the socialist regime in the name of their children. López wrote previously in English in the New York Times.
According to the latest tallies of incidents in Venezuela, the current wave of uprisings has resulted in 39 dead, 608 injuries, and 2,285 arrests, most of are student protesters who remain behind bars.