Puerto Rican stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have lashed out against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, accusing him of using their song, global hit Despacito, for political gains.
President Nicolas Maduro presented an altered version of the song during his weekly TV show on July 23.
The reworked lyrics promoted Nicolas Maduro’s plans for a controversial new citizen’s assembly, which will be elected on July 30 to rewrite the constitution.
The singers branded it an outrage.
Nicolas Maduro was seen clapping along to the remix, as his audience danced.
“Our call to the <Constituent Assembly> only seeks to unite the country … Despacito!” go the new lyrics.
Luis Fonsi responded angrily on social media: “At no point was I asked, nor did I authorize, the use or the change in lyrics of Despacito for political means, and much less so in the middle of the deplorable situation experienced by Venezuela, a country I love so much.
“My music is for all those who want to listen to it and enjoy it, not to be used as propaganda that tries to manipulate the will of a people who are crying out for their freedom.”
Daddy Yankee posted a picture of President Maduro with a large red cross over it on Instagram and wrote: “That you illegally appropriate a song [Despacito] does not compare with the crimes you commit and have committed in Venezuela.
“Your dictatorial regime is a joke, not only for my Venezuelan brothers, but for the entire world.”
Despacito translates as “slowly”, referring to the speed of the lead singer’s seduction technique.
However, the Venezuelan version strips back the lyrics.
Instead, the new chorus runs: “Slowly, take your vote rather than weapons, and express your ideas. Always in peace and calm.”
Introducing the new take to an audience of supporters, Nicolas Maduro said a creative group had reworked it and he wanted to put it to the test.
“What do you think, eh?” the president asked the crowd.
Venezuela has been shaken by often violent protests in recent months, and millions joined a general strike last week.
Some 100 people have died in the unrest, which has further hammered an imploding economy that is running short of food and medicine.
The constituent assembly President Maduro wants to establish would have power to rewrite the constitution and bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.
Critics say the president is trying to cement a dictatorship. He argues it is the only way to bring peace back to the divided nation.
The original Puerto Rican version of Despacito has been a worldwide success, and a version featuring Justin Bieber recently became the most-streamed song of all time.
Another high-profile member of the governing Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, also drew on Despacito recently to score political points.
“As the song says, step by step, slowly and suavely, they [the critics] want to create a coup,” he said, according to local media.
A variety of opposition parodies have also gone viral on social media, including one called Madurito.
Another called Bien Flaquito (Very Skinny) played on Venezuela’s food shortages.