Legendary salsa star Willie Colon, one of the most influential artists in Latin music, is speaking out against the threats and insults he says he's receiving in response to his online comments about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
In an exclusive interview with the National Latino Broadcasting's "From Washington al Mundo" radio program that will air Wednesday, Colon says his Facebook and Twitter accounts have been blocked by the Venezuelan and Cuban governments.
"There's no rhyme or reason for their arguments other than character assassination and to block and stop me from speaking," Colon said, according to a press release announcing the interview.
Colon used social media last month to speak out about Venezuela's lack of transparency regarding the health of Chavez
, who has been secluded in a Havana hospital for the past two months. Venezuelan authorities have been secretive about Chavez's health, and the 58-year-old fourth-term president has not made any public appearances since undergoing a fourth cancer surgery in Havana in December. The government has not released any photographs of the ailing leader, and Chavez hasn't spoken on state television.
Colon's message, which translates to "God bless Venezuela now that it has two presidents... one ripe and the other rotten," refers to Venezuela's vice president Nicolas Maduro, whose surname literally means "ripe" in English. The tweet was a dig at Chavez, who Colon said might as well be dead now that Maduro is running the country while Chavez recovers from his surgery.
Chavez supporters immediately attacked Colon for his criticism.
"One thing is to defend a political ideal and another is to mock a cancer patient. Colón’s comments were wildly insensitive," tweeted Rene Perez, a member of the Latin band Calle 13. "It reminded me of the Marines urinating Taliban corpses."
"From Washington al Mundo" features interviews and discussions with national and international leaders, policy experts and opinion-makers. Host Mauricio Claver-Carone is a Capitol Hill insider, political advocate, and one of the nation's most widely-respected foreign policy commentators.
The full interview will air Wednesday on the National Latino Broadcasting's Sirius-XM radio program, "From Washington al Mundo" at 4 p.m. ET.
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