The Music Of The Venezuelan Presidential Campaigns
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On Sunday, Venezuelans head to the polls to choose their next president. They'll be deciding between Socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro, who promises to continue the policies of the late president Hugo Chavez, and their other choice, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
In American politics, musicians often endorse candidates, and politicians seize on particular songs as their campaign sound. But in Venezuela, campaigns seem to have their own soundtracks. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports from the capital Caracas.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: This is the music of the United Socialist Party. It's blaring from a punto rojo, or red spot. That's what Venezuelans call the red-roofed Socialist Party stands that are like polka dots across the country. Twelve-year-old Juan Antonio Gutierrez and his friends are manning it. Gutierrez explains that this song by Venezuelan singer Lilia Vera commemorates the failed coup against the Chavez government on April 11, 2002.
JUAN ANTONIO GUTIERREZ: (Foreign language spoken)
GARSD: He says April 11th was such a difficult time. We never want something like that to happen again. Gutierrez, standing in downtown Caracas, says he reminds passerbys that in his last speech, Chavez instructed followers to pick Maduro. Among the songs blaring from his socialist stand is one by popular Venezuelan musician Hany Kauam, who put Chavez's speech to music.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: (Foreign language spoken)
GARSD: In the song, Chavez says his decision to leave power to Maduro is as clear as the moon. The singer then praises Chavez's revolution. In another more posh part of Caracas, street vendors weave in and out of the endless traffic, selling the soundtrack of the opposition.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GARSD: The center-right Justice First Party, led by crew-cut Capriles, is not much for blaring music on the street. But several tracks on the opposition's CDs sound like they could be playing at a club. They urge people to mobilize for job opportunities and freedom of speech. And the opposition scored a musical coup when Puerto Rican salsa legend Willie Colon penned a song called "Mentira Fresca," or "Fresh Lie."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MENTIRA FRESCA")
WILLIE COLON: (Singing in foreign language)
GARSD: The lyrics take aim at Maduro: Fresh lies spoke again on television. He said there wouldn't be another devaluation. He's just the substitute, in charge of making a disaster worse. This has become the anthem of the opposition. And, as with every musical beef, there's a comeback. Last week, candidate Maduro responded directly to Willie Colon.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)
PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO: (Foreign language spoken)
GARSD: He suggested Colon listen to Eddie Palmieri's "Sujetate La Lengua" or "Bite Your Tongue," something no one in this election is doing.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUJETATE LA LENGUA")
EDDIE PALMIERI: (Singing in foreign language)
GARSD: For NPR News, I'm Jasmine Garsd in Caracas, Venezuela. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.