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Venezuela: Singer Onechot Becomes Victim of Violence He Decried

Juan David Chacón is a reggae singer, his stage name being Onechot [es], which pronounced in Spanish sounds very much like a Latin “Juancho” and in English as “One shot”. As a reggae artist he has dedicated much of his work in spreading messages of peace.

On the night of Monday, February 27, 2012, on returning to pick up some of his recorded material, Onechot was attacked by a group of criminals who shot him, wounding him in the head. Tuesday was meant to see the artist begin his national tour of his new album, however, due to the incident he has been in intensive care following surgery to remove the bullet from his brain.

Photo of Onechot, taken by David Maris

Photo of Onechot, taken by David Maris

Onechot recorded a video called Rotten Town, denouncing the violence in Venezuela. The lyrics of his music describes the situation:

Let me introduce you to Caracas, embassy of hell, land of murderers and shottas. Hundred people die every week, we nuh live in war, country is full of freaks

In 2011 alone 19,000 people were killed in Venezuela, a country that has 28 million inhabitants and is not currently facing a war on drugs such as in Mexico or an armed conflict currently affecting Colombia. In 2008, Venezuela had one of the highest homicide rates in the world and the situation has not improved. This is the crisis that Onechot reported on in his video that at the time was criticised by the Venezuelan Government:

When Rotten Town was released in 2010, the former Venezuelan Minister for Communication and Information, Tania Diaz, launched a threat of legal action [es] against Onechot for, according to official sources, the music video's showing of “sensationalist images of violence”.

The criminal act against the singer led to a protest on social networks, producing Twitter Trending Topics such as #Onechot and #FuerzaOnechot (‘We support Onechot'). Most of the messages showed the surprise and indignation felt towards the fact that a peace activist had now become a victim of what he had previously denounced in his music.

Jogreg Henriquez demonstrated this with his post “Onechot saw it coming” [es]:

Onechot entró a formar parte de las estadísticas de las víctimas de los actos criminales que tienen a Caracas como una de las más peligrosas del mundo. Decenas de asesinatos cada fin de semana así lo atestiguan. Decenas de familias de luto frente a una morgue colapsada por tanto dolor y tanto olor a muerte.

Onechot has joined the statistics of victims of criminal acts which have made Caracas one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Dozens of murders each weekend confirm this. Dozens of families in mourning in morgues jammed with so much pain and the smell of death.

In the blog Panfleto Negro, the oldest blog in Venezuela, the author Luis1210 has warned that for months now the Government has tried to blame society for the violence currently seen in the country. He describes this in his post titled “Oneshot, it's your fault” [es]:

El gobierno desde hace tiempo nos quiere vender una gran falacia con respecto a la inseguridad. Quiere convertirnos en corresponsables de la seguridad ciudadana para de esa forma echarnos los muertos a nosotros. Si aceptamos esa responsabilidad de manera automática aceptamos también la culpa. Y he ahí el porqué del título, no he dejado de leer en twitter estupideces como que OneChot se lo buscó o lo atrajo cósmicamente por haber elegido ese nombre artístico o que andaba “ostentando riqueza” o cualquier estupidez. Cuando lo cierto es que OneChot es un tipo que se atreve a hacer reggae de protesta, algo que hoy en día parece olvidado.

For a long time now the Government has wanted to sell us a fallacy about the violence and insecurity in the country. They want us to become stewards of public safety which in turn makes us more susceptible to become murder victims ourselves. If we accept the responsibility for this, we automatically accept the blame. Here lies the reasoning behind my title for this post. All I have read on Twitter are nonsense posts about how Onechot was asking for what happened to him, that the violence was cosmically attracted to him because of his artistic alias or because he was “flaunting his wealth” and other such stupidity. The truth is that Onechot is a guy who dares to make reggae music that can be used as a protest, which seems to be forgotten these days.

Inti Acevedo is of the same opinion (@Inti) [es], criticising the self-censorship of other artists who denounce the social problems in Venezuela:

Cuando @Oneshot sacó el video que denuncia la violencia en Venezuela se ganó mi respeto. Un rebelde de verdad en un país de rockeros cobardes

When @Oneshot released his video where he denounced the violence in Venezuela, he won my respect. A true rebel in a country of cowardly rockers.

Meanwhile, the poet @WillyMcKey wrote a post for the blog Prodavinci [es] about how the country should leave its violence in the past and move on:

Quienes deben asegurarnos la vida ven llover sangre ajena, pisan nuestros charcos y se esconden detrás de sí mismos, como si el país fuese un hombre hospitalizado, como si la ciudad solamente necesitara condiciones antisépticas. Como si el miedo fuera una estrategia.
Mientras inventan una guerra en el espejo, afuera disparan consecuencias de la ineficacia.
Mientras buscan a quien echarle la culpa, afuera toma forma la muerte cada noche.
¿Cuándo vamos a poder cerrar los ojos para que la lluvia nos permita una sonrisa nueva? Sólo cuando mudemos Rotten Town muy lejos, a ese lugar donde reposa lo podrido: el pasado.

Who must ensure that life goes on after the bloody rain of others that collects and forms bloody puddles that are trampled on by people who hide behind themselves, as if the country were a hospitalised man, as if the country only needed antiseptic conditions to survive and as if fear were a strategy.
While they invent a war in the mirror, outside are the shots that come from the consequences of inefficiency.
While they are looking for who to blame, outside someone is killed.
When are we going to close our eyes so that the rain will wash the sadness away and permit us to smile again? Only when we move Rotten Town to a faraway place, to the place where all rotten things lie: the past.

Jaqueline Goldberg [es] is a writer and friend of Onechot's parents. In her Facebook account she posted:

I don't know how I will be able to sleep tonight, knowing that Juan David Chacón Benítez, the son and brother of dear friends, is in therapy with a bullet in his memory. How can I leave tomorrow and pronounce the words “country” and “night” without anger. Right now I am scared, I have the desire to flee, I feel clumsy and dumb. Citizen disgust.

In 2010 the filmaker Sergio Monsalve praised the quality of the video of the singer, in spite of the official criticism, for which he came back to his original post on the subject [es] and added:

This is my reason for why “Rotten Town” is one of the best Venezuelan video clips of the third millennium and one of the greatest in Venezuela's history. I return to it here because of the recent incidents affecting Onechot. I published it in August 2010. Unfortunately today it takes on a new life. In Venezuela, time continues to pass yet the problems get worse, above all the unleashing of the underworld. Our real social cancer is the lack of safety. Is this a disease without a remedy? It is time to urgently seek a cure.

Meanwhile, as the country awaits the outcome of Onechot in intensive care, the protests continue to increase on social networking sites and physical artists such as Ricardo Crovato portray Caracas as being Rotten Town, until the situation improves.

Photo of Caracas as Rotten Town, image by Ricardo Crovato

  • Otto Schwarz

    Woh, is incredible this situation happened to One Chot or anyone in this city, he fight for his music, now for his life, We´re sad cause´ he represent with his lyrics what so many citizens in this Rotten Town claim, “CITY SAFETY”, everywhere, everytime for all, not distition, not political, that´s a message for you Bro, no more violence, no more splash blood in the street, we´re family from same root, We´re Venezuelans.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ras.cardoreggae Ras Cardo Reggae

    One chot, I Ras Cardo Reggae from trench town Jamaica along with all the brethrens stand with you in this time of your tragedy. We are very familiar with this type of violence perpetrated by the forces of evil against those who sing the truth. My prayers and with all of us know that Jah will enable you to overcome this set back and threat to your life and music of truth. We will never be afraid of the evil forces for they shall be melted like wax against the fire, and Jah will dash them in pieces like a potters vessel. Stand strong my brother in Jah love. Time will tell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ras.cardoreggae Ras Cardo Reggae

    I pray that Jah love, mercies, blessings and guidance stay watch over you and yours at this most critical and difficult time. May Jah show forth his power and might over all those who seek to destroy his children. May Jah the father, Jah the Son, and Jah the Holy spirit remain with you from this day forward.

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