Ricky Martin defends anti-Bush gesture
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Ricky Martin, who was a headliner at the 2001 inauguration ball for President George W. Bush, has a message for the American commander in chief about war.
At a recent concert, the 35-year-old singer stuck up his middle finger when he sang the president's name in his song "Asignatura Pendiente," which includes the words, "a photo with Bush." The gesture last Friday prompted cheers from thousands of fans in the San Juan stadium.
On Thursday, the Puerto Rican heartthrob repeated his criticism of the Iraq war and explained his changed position on Bush.
"My convictions of peace and life go beyond any government and political agenda and as long as I have a voice onstage and offstage, I will always condemn war and those who promulgate it," Martin said about his action in an e-mail statement sent to The Associated Press via a spokesman.
Martin, like other artists, has been highly critical of the war in Iraq.
Best known to international audiences for his smash hit "Livin' la Vida Loca," Martin is a huge star in Puerto Rico, where symbols of national identity -- such as the Puerto Rican flag and anthem -- are widely adored, and residents have complicated feelings about Washington.
The United States seized Puerto Rico in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War.
Puerto Rico's 4 million people are U.S. citizens and can be drafted into the military but cannot vote for president and have no voting representation in Congress. They also do not pay federal taxes.