The vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello issued a warning on Wednesday to Venezuelan public officials against attending Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi’s upcoming October concert in Caracas, insulting the singer for not letting dictator Nicolás Maduro use his hit song “Despacito.”
Cabello, in his weekly state-television show Con el Mazo Dando (“Hitting with the Mallet”), charged against the singer, calling him “immoral” for his plans to offer two concerts in Venezuela in October despite having said that Maduro is a dictator in an April interview given to the Spanish newspaper El Español. The comments drew the ire of Cabello, who quoted the interview’s headline live: “Maduro Tried to Use Despacito and I Put on the Brakes: He Is a Dictator.”
Diosdado Cabello arremetió contra @LuisFonsi y @OLGATANON1313, e instó a no asistir a sus conciertos en Caracas: "Inmorales" y "cachorrito del imperio" https://t.co/zKtzmWtcZt pic.twitter.com/i3i7YE7MvP
— Monitoreamos (@monitoreamos) September 15, 2022
“He can come. In Venezuela we don’t have those problems, but never ever can it ever be taken away from him that he is an immoral,” Cabello ranted. “These people charged [money] for saying what they said. Because now, with their very cleaned up faces, they come to sing to Venezuela and I repeat – I will not go to those concerts, but I am going to have cooperating patriots in the VIP area.”
A “cooperating patriot” is an anonymous informant used by Venezuela’s socialist regime to impose social control over the Venezuelan population. “Cooperating patriots” are tasked with identifying dissenting people or voices within a community who criticize the socialist party’s rule, or are simply denouncing internal or social problems within their communities.
The targets are then intimidated with insults or threatened with weapons, or are often stripped of their public sector jobs or regime stipends. While the practice itself is unconstitutional, the regime openly engages in it. Cabello is the main promoter of the “cooperating patriots,” whose “whistleblowing” reports are often featured in his weekly television show.
Cabello also issued a warning message to public officials to not attend the singer’s concerts, which are scheduled for October 28 – 29.
“If this guy called for an invasion against Venezuela, he speaks ill of Venezuela, not a single state official should be there, they can say what they want about me, that’s my position. Where is he from, from Puerto Rico? That is a puppy of the [American] empire next door,” Cabello said.
The Maduro regime’s animosity towards the Puerto Rican singer is not new, going back to the regime’s unauthorized use of Fonsi’s hit song “Despacito” in 2017 to promote its authoritarian plans.
“Despacito” is a song released by Luis Fonsi in 2017 that instantly exploded in popularity and shattered numerous records, including the most weeks at number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart and, at the height of its popularity, the most viewed music video on YouTube. The song also reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks, tying Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” as the song with the longest run in the chart’s history.
During his 2020 presidential campaign, President Joe Biden, in an attempt to court Hispanic voters, played “Despacito” during a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee, Florida.
In 2017, and amid the intense wave of protests against Venezuela’s socialist regime, Maduro debuted an altered version of “Despacito” with changed lyrics that promoted socialism and the then-upcoming rigged election of a National Constituent Assembly intended to draft a new constitution for the country — while also serving to supercede and neutralize the powers of the then opposition-led legislative parliament. The Constituent Assembly was disbanded at the end of 2020 without fulfilling its role of rewriting Venezuela’s constitution but, during its three-year lifespan, it passed laws that helped the socialist regime cement its grip on the country and Maduro remain in power, such as the “anti-hate speech” law that has heavily censored and curbed dissent.
At the height of the controversy, Fonsi strongly condemned Maduro’s unauthorized use of his song for political purposes while expressing his support for the Venezuelan people.
“At no time have I been consulted, nor have I authorized the use or change of the lyrics of ‘Despacito’ for political purposes, much less in the midst of the deplorable situation that a country that I love so much such as Venezuela is experiencing,” Fonsi stated on a social media post in 2017. “My music is for all those who want to listen to it and enjoy it, not to use it as propaganda that tries to manipulate the will of a people that is crying out for their freedom and a better future.”
Fonsi is not the only singer to have drawn the ire of the socialist regime. During his rant against Fonsi, Diosdado Cabello also ranted against Puerto Rican singer Olga Tañón, who is also slated to offer a concert in Venezuela in October.
Earlier in August, Cabello accused Colombian singer Juanes of being a “supreme immoral” for having scheduled a concert in Venezuela slated for November despite his harsh criticism of Maduro. Juanes was among the participants of Virgin Group billionaire Richard Brandson’s “Venezuela Live Aid” concert that took place in February 2019 and which the Maduro regime alleges was part of an invasion plan of the United States against Venezuela, accusing the singer of being part of said plans.
Juanes canceled his upcoming concert after Cabello threatened to assault him on his television show.
“They said that it was my fault that Juanes had not come. No, I wanted Juanes to come. And shake his hand, and tell him that he is immoral,” Cabello later claimed. “Sure, I have every right, because he called for an invasion of my country. If he asked for an invasion of my country, how could I not have the right to tell him that he is immoral?”
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.