Action star Vin Diesel posted an Instagram video in Spanish on Thursday alongside Fast and Furious series costar Michelle Rodríguez expressing support for anti-socialist protests in Venezuela and urging those fighting for their freedom to “move forward with faith.”
“I and my partner in crime want to send a message to Venezuela,” Diesel says, concluding simply, “We are with you always, y pa’ lante con fe,” roughly translating to “move forward with faith”:
Diesel’s message surfaced on Instagram hours after violence erupted throughout the country in the aftermath of the inauguration of interim President Juan Guaidó, who assumed the office in his capacity as president of the National Assembly, the federal legislature. The Venezuelan Constitution’s Article 350 requires Venezuelan citizens to no longer recognize any government that violates human rights or ruptures the democratic order by not holding free and fair elections or otherwise disregarding the will of the people. Guaidó, amid thousands of supporters in Caracas, vowed to use his new powers to first allow humanitarian aid to enter the devastated socialist country and then to establish free and fair elections as soon as possible to replace himself with an elected head of state.
Dictator Nicolás Maduro orchestrated “elections” last May in which more than 80 percent of the population abstained from participating in a sign of mass protest. His socialist government blocked all opposition candidates from participating, meaning he faced off against a Chavista candidate and a member of a communist party. Maduro staged an “inauguration” this month, which much of the Western Hemisphere boycotted.
As Wednesday evening concluded, having attracted thousands of anti-Maduro protesters in most of Venezuela’s largest cities, the government began using the Bolivarian National Guard to attack and kill protesters. Monitor groups estimated that the government killed at least 14 people between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, shooting ammunition into crowds and going door-to-door to assault and detain civilians.
Maduro himself issued remarks late Wednesday from the presidential palace, Miraflores, announcing that American diplomats had 72 hours to leave the country after the Trump administration recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president of the country. As Washington does not recognize Maduro having any political power, the State Department issued a statement saying that it would not withdraw its diplomats because Guaidó had not requested it.
Diesel is one of the first high-profile American celebrities to issue a statement of support for the Venezuelan people. Spanish language stars, particularly South American and Caribbean musicians, came out in droves late Wednesday to extend their support for the overthrow of Maduro. The world of reggaetón, a Latin dance genre, was particularly well represented, as artists like Luis Fonsi (famous for the 2017 hit “Despacito”), Maluma, and Don Omar lent their public platforms to speak out against the Venezuelan socialist regime.
J Balvin, arguably the most famous reggaetón artist in the world, posted a message on Instagram calling for “light” in the country, with an image of protesters holding candles. Balvin, who is Colombian, has repeatedly insulted Maduro in public in the past:
In the English-language world, the cause of freedom for Venezuela had a minor moment of popularity in 2014, during the peak of protests in that country. Academy Award winner Jared Leto used his speech that year after receiving the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to support both protesters in Venezuela and Ukraine. “As you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we are thinking of you,” Leto said.