October 11, 2007
Venezuela's government has blocked popular Spanish singer Alejandro Sánz from using a stadium because he criticized President Hugo Chávez three years ago.
Higher Education Minister Luis Acuña said Sánz would not be allowed to hold his scheduled Nov. 1 concert at the Poliedro -- a state-controlled stadium -- because of his past criticism of Chávez and his ''Bolivarian Revolution,'' a political movement named after independence hero Simón Bolívar.
''If an artist comes to Venezuela to rail against Chávez, against the Bolivarian project, how do you think the people of this country would respond if he were to be allowed to use'' the stadium, Acuña said during an interview broadcast on Unión Radio.
Responding to questions about Chávez prior to a 2004 referendum on the president's rule, Sánz said: ``I don't like your president. I don't like those from other places either.''
Sánz, a Latin Grammy winner who is immensely popular in Venezuela, could offer the concert in a privately owned venue, Acuña said. He did not explain why the government had initially agreed to the concert, which 15,000 fans were expected to attend.
Sánz' publicist in the United States did not immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press.
Chávez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, warned in July that foreigners who publicly criticize him or his government while visiting Venezuela would be expelled from the country.