April 11, 2018 / 6:04 PM / 11 days ago

Venezuela rockers push anti-Maduro anthems as Americas Summit soundtrack

CARACAS (Reuters) - A group of Venezuelan rock bands hope to popularize songs against President Nicolas Maduro by handing out a CD called “Rock Against Dictatorship” during a summit of Latin American and North American countries in Lima this week.

The 16-track disc ranges from catchy pop tunes to angry punk anthems that denounce corruption, hunger and human rights abuses at the hands of the ruling Socialist Party, which has overseen a devastating collapse of the once-prosperous nation.

“Let’s go to paradise, to fiscal paradise,” sing Emigdio + Superpower on the CD’s opening track, a swipe at Venezuelan officials and government-linked businessmen who have been accused of stashing illicit cash in offshore havens.

The track “Nazional” rages against the National Guard, which faced withering criticism for excessive use of force in breaking up anti-government protests in 2017. The often violent demonstrations over four months last year left 125 people dead.

That song is by the band The Ministry of Supreme Unhappiness, a play on the widely mocked Vice Ministry of Supreme Happiness that Maduro created in 2013 just as the country’s economy was unraveling.

The effort is being organized by rights group Provea, which says rock music is more likely to reach young people than human rights reports that are typically clogged with statistics and complex legal language.

The 1,000 discs will be handed out as part of activities for civil society organizations, said Provea coordinator Rafael Uzcategui, though the music is also available online.

The United States hopes to use the Summit of the Americas in Peru, which starts on Friday, to urge greater regional pressure on Venezuela.

The event is likely to gain less regional attention after U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made disparaging comments about Latin American immigrants, canceled his attendance.

In the past, the summit has gotten more attention from what happens on the sidelines rather than the agreements themselves. The 2012 gathering in Cartagena, Colombia, for example, was dominated by scandal over U.S. Secret Service agents hiring prostitutes.

Editing by David Gregorio

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