Puerto Rican singers Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Panamian songwriter Erika Ender criticized Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro for using “Despacito” at a political rally. Maduro used the viral song to appeal to voters. “Our call to the Constituent Assembly only seeks to unite the country … Despacito,” Maduro said.
Venezuela is in the midst of a crippling recession that’s been marked violent protests beginning in April after a perceived breach of power by Venezuela’s Supreme Court. Maduro responded to the protests brutally. According to the New York Times, at least 50 people have been killed, 1,000 injured and 2,700 arrested in addition to political prisoners due to the unrest.
Against this horrifying backdrop, the creators of “Despacito” were understandably unnerved. Singer Luis Fonsi denounced Maduro on Instagram. “At no time I have been consulted or have I authorized the use or change of ‘Despacito’ lyrics for political ends, less so in the context of the deplorable situation affecting a country that I love so much as #Venezuela,” he wrote in Spanish, according to NBC. “My music is for all of those that want to listen to it and enjoy it, not to use it as propaganda that tries to manipulate the will of the people that are crying out for their freedom and a better future.”
Daddy Yankee echoed Fonsi’s words in an Instagram post, drawing a red X through a photo of Maduro. “With this nefarious marketing plan, you only highlight your fascist ideal,” he wrote.
Erika Ender, the third writer of “Despacito,” also condemned Maduro. “To see that a song that I co-authored is being used without permission to publicize campaigns linked to a regime that has a discontent and suffering country … I am offended, and I do NOT approve of its use,” she wrote.
Maduro is calling for a July 30th vote to elect a Constituent Assembly. The opposition to Maduro is organizing a national strike to take place on Wednesday and Thursday this week before another round of mass protests on Friday.
Speaking with Rolling Stone earlier this year, Fonsi described “Despacito” as a balm during hard times. “We need to escape all these issues,” he said. “Just when you think we’re living in a little bit of a divided world, music brings us together.”