Tags: Venezuela | KevinSpacey | Venezuela | protests | LeopoldoLopez

Kevin Spacey Urges Support for Venezuela Protesters

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Monday, 07 Apr 2014 10:58 AM

"House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey  took to his blog over the weekend to call for support for the tens of thousands of Venezuelans protesting against the nation's government and its "heavy-handed" repression.

The post is a turn of events from seven years ago, when the movie star traveled to Venezuela for a private, three-hour meeting with the now-deceased President Hugo Chavez and a private tour of the dictator's regime-funded $13 million film studio, according to reports from September 2007.

His visit, a three-hour dinner with Chavez, came at a time when the dictator was courting some of Hollywood's biggest stars for support, including Spacey, Sean Penn, and Danny Glover.

But Spacey, who in 2007 did not comment about his dinner with the dictator, on Saturday called out for Americans to support students protesting Chavez's successor, President Nicolás Maduro, who took office after Chavez died in 2013.

The students, Spacey said, were standing for basic human freedoms and their right to protest, "which is a sacred right whether in Boston, Belarus, or Venezuela," and the government there "responded with heavy-handed repression."

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Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of the opposition party Voluntad Popular, called for nationwide peaceful demonstrations to address poverty, chronic food shortages, the highest inflation in the world, and media censorship, and was soon jailed.

"More than 1,400 students were arrested, there are more than 40 confirmed cases of torture, and Leopoldo Lopez still sits in a Venezuelan military prison," Spacey wrote on his blog. "He has urged the students to exercise their legal rights to peaceful protest and free speech, and he repeatedly emphasized they must do so without violence."

However, Spacey said, Maduro blames Lopez for the violence and ordered him to be charged with murder, arson, and terrorism.

"To date, the government has presented no evidence of the charges against him, and their legal case is falling apart," Spacey said. Meanwhile, human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against the Maduro regime and its actions.

Spacey quoted Human Rights Watch: "'The Venezuelan government has openly embraced the classic tactics of an authoritarian regime: jailing its opponents, muzzling the media, and intimidating civil society.'"

Meanwhile, Spacey said he will continue to support Venezuelans who claim their rights "peacefully and nonviolently" and asked his fans to join with him in supporting them.

"We who are fortunate enough to live in freedom must stand up to oppression and injustice and remind the Venezuelan people that they are on the right side of history," said Spacey, asking fans to show their support by tweeting comments with the hashtag #SOSVenezuela.

The weekend blog entry wasn't Spacey's first call for support for the Venezuelan protesters.

Just before the Academy Awards ceremony in March, he sent a tweet in their support that was retweeted almost 45,000 times.

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