People Staff
February 21, 2008 AT 06:20 PM EST

After various artists and celebrities publicly criticized the Venezuelan government for leading Alejandro Sanz to cancel his concert in Caracas, President Hugo Chávez has spoken up to defend himself.

On a radio program, Chávez denied prohibiting the 39-year-old Spanish singer from performing in the country and even invited Sanz give the concert. “Come here and sing in Miraflores. I will let you use Plaza Bicentenaria for the performance, along with Fito Páez, who says that dissidence isn’t tolerated here,” he stated.

Chávez disagrees with the artists who say that the Venezuelan government doesn’t allow for a variety of opinions. “We will always revere freedom of expression. I’m against pressuring the media. I’m the first to invite any of you to sing here, in my country.” The leader then added that Venezuela promotes the arts and is open to different ideas.

After canceling his concert that was scheduled for Feb. 14th and being called a persona non grata by certain Venezuelan authorities, Sanz was disappointed by the authorities’ imposition of a “law of silence.” Now we’ll have to wait and see if Sanz accepts the invitation.

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