Despacito stars condemn Venezuela's Maduro over political remix

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The president during his weekly show, Sundays with MaduroImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
The president during his weekly show, Sundays with Maduro

The singers of global hit Despacito have lashed out against the Venezuelan president, accusing him of using their song for political gains.

President Nicolas Maduro presented an altered version during his weekly television show on Sunday.

The reworked lyrics promoted his plans for a controversial new citizen's assembly, which will be elected on Sunday to rewrite the constitution.

Puerto Rican stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee branded it an outrage.

The president 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.

Media caption,

Despacito: The Latin hit taking over the world

Luis Fonsi responded angrily on social media: "At no point was I asked, nor did I authorise, 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," he added.

Daddy Yankee posted a picture of Mr Maduro with a large red cross over it on Instagram.

"That you illegally appropriate a song [Despacito] does not compare with the crimes you commit and have committed in Venezuela," he wrote.

"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 sex.

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, President Maduro said a creative group had reworked it and he wanted to put it to the test.

"What do you think, eh?" the grinning president asked the crowd.

Media caption,

Your video guide to the crisis gripping Venezuela

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 Mr Maduro wants to establish would have power to rewrite the constitution and bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.

Critics say he 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 Canadian pop star Justin Bieber recently became the most-streamed song of all time.

Image source, Universal Music
Image caption,
The original version of the song was a global hit, juxtaposing Fonsi's melodic chorus with Daddy Yankee's more gritty, urban verses

Venezuela's many Despacito parodies

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 the country's food shortages.