Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Slamming Venezuela's once-fashionable 'Chavismo,' stars cheer protest

Covering his mouth with a rag, Latin pop star Nacho choked on tear gas at an anti-government protest last month. Mexican actress Salma Hayek praised the protesters' courage. Venezuelan soccer star Salomon Rondon called them "heroes."

A decade ago, the charismatic Hugo Chavez not only persuaded millions to vote for him in Venezuela, he enticed a who's who of Hollywood icons, pop stars and celebrity intellectuals to publicly back his "21st Century Socialism."

But now, with hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets for over a month to decry Venezuela's ravaged economy and falling democratic credentials as leftist President Nicolas Maduro rebuffs calls for early elections, former backers have gone quiet while a new raft of celebrities cheer on anti-government demonstrators.

From Venezuela's best known actor, Edgar Ramirez, to U.S. heavyweight Robert De Niro, messages are streaming in to support the most sustained anti-government unrest since 2014, as the country suffers a major crisis leaving millions struggling with food shortages.

Some 29 people have died and hundreds have been arrested or injured in the near-daily protests .... http://www.reuters.com