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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 03:39 GMT 04:39 UK
Concert ban for 'Chavez critic'
By Will Grant
Americas editor, BBC News

Alejandro Sanz (file pic)
Sanz has been banned from performing in a state-run stadium
A popular Spanish singer has been banned from performing in a Caracas stadium over remarks he made about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

A government minister accused Alejandro Sanz of criticising Mr Chavez three years ago while touring Venezuela.

The musician has been banned from staging a concert at a state-run stadium but the government says he can perform at any privately owned venue.

Some 15,000 fans hoped to see Sanz at the gig in the capital on 1 November.

Expulsion

The pop singer may have sold 21 million albums and won more than a dozen Latin Grammys, but the Venezuelan higher education minister, Luis Acuna, is not among his admirers.

He accused the musician of railing against Mr Chavez and his Bolivarian revolution.

Mr Acuna asked how the Venezuelan people would respond to such an artist using the state-controlled stadium.

Hugo Chavez in the National Assembly, 15 August 2007
Chavez has warned foreigners not to criticise his agenda

The comments which sparked the controversy were made by the singer during his last tour of Venezuela in 2004, when he said he did not like Mr Chavez.

He also said that he did not like a number of other presidents elsewhere.

And he made reference to a controversial recall referendum against Mr Chavez which was brought by the opposition to try to remove him from power.

So far, Sanz has made no comment on the government's decision.

It comes a few months after Mr Chavez warned foreigners they faced expulsion if they came to Venezuela to criticise him or his political agenda.

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