Rightwing extremists are lobbying in Hollywood to undermine the international image of the Venezuelan government, the country’s Minister of Communication said Saturday.
Delcy Rodríguez lobbed the accusation as the most prominent actors and filmmakers prepared to gather in Los Angeles for the 86th Annual Academy Awards, where some artists offered their support for the at times violent protests in recent weeks that have highlighted Venezuela’s sharpening polarization in the wake of former President Hugo Chávez’s death.
“Extremists of the right are lobbying in Hollywood looking for statements against Venezuela during the Oscar awards ceremony,” Rodríguez tweeted Saturday. “This worldwide smear campaign against our Fatherland enjoys the support of a powerful media platform at the service of imperial interests!” Rodríguez said in another tweet.
The lobby Rodríguez was referring to consisted of two hashtags, #OscarsForVenezuela and #SOSVenezuela, that Twitter users used to ask Hollywood stars to mention the country’s situation during their acceptance speeches on Oscar night, according to California daily La Opinión.
Venezuela did, in fact, get a few shout outs at the Academy Awards.
Just before the awards began, actor Kevin Spacey’s tweeted out a message sympathizing with Venezuela’s anti-government protesters. The statement got retweeted nearly 40,000 times.
Jared Leto drew even more attention to the South American country’s politics, as he picked up his award for Best Supporting Actor in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
“To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight, in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say we are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we’re thinking of you tonight,” Leto said, according to BuzzFeed.
Leto told journalists later Sunday night that he made the remarks for personal reasons. “[Y]ou have an opportunity when you stand on this stage,” Leto said, according to BuzzFeed. “You can make it about yourself or you can hold up a mirror and shine a light, and that’s what I chose to do tonight.”
Rodríguez responded to Leto by retweeting users who trashed his remarks.
“And does Jared Coleto [sic] know that Venezuela is not the capital of Ukraine?” one of several such tweets reads. “Coleto” is Spanish for mop.
The Oscars weren’t broadcast in Venezuela this year, according to Fusion. The pro-government station Venevisión normally carries the program.
Despite the criticism on Oscar night, the Venezuelan government enjoys the support of several leftwing Hollywood stars, including director Oliver Stone and actor Sean Penn.
A series of protests, originally launched by students, have rocked Venezuela for weeks, leaving at least 17 people dead.