Spanish pop star Alejandro Sanz is in Venezuela to perform for the first time in years after concerts in 2007 and 2008 were canceled amid friction between the entertainer and President Hugo Chavez's government.

Sanz was in the western city of Maracaibo on Tuesday (Nov. 16) to sing in the first of three concerts in Venezuela.

The pop star canceled a Caracas concert in 2007 after a government official said Sanz wouldn't be allowed to use a state-controlled stadium due to his criticism of Chavez. Sanz had previously remarked in 2004 that he does not like Chavez. A 2008 concert was canceled by organizers who said "appropriate conditions" were lacking.

Chavez and other government officials have since vehemently denied blocking appearances by Sanz. Chavez said in 2008 that the singer would be welcome to perform in a plaza near the presidential palace.

Sanz, a Latin Grammy winner who is immensely popular in Venezuela, has acknowledged he was never officially prohibited from performing and says he was glad to be returning.

Sanz said in a news conference in Las Vegas last week, before traveling to Venezuela, that he was not coming to "provoke."

In a Twitter message to fans Tuesday, he said: "What happiness Maracaibo. Here were are ... in spite of the winds against us."