Classical music maestro Gustavo Dudamel has spoken out against the Venezuelan socialist government. In an online essay titled “I Raise My Voice,” Dudamel asked President Nicolás Maduro to listen to demonstrators who have taken to the streets against his mandate.

Dudamel, a long-time supporter of Maduro and Venezuela’s socialist government published a video last week on Instagram urging Venezuelan political leaders to find ways to solve the crisis in the country, leaving ideologies aside. However, in light of this week’s brutal repression sustained by opposition demonstrators -which raised the death toll to 37-, Dudamel decided to publish the essay.

Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel. Image credit: Panorama.

Dudamel spoke out against Maduro following the death of a 17-year-old musician

Opposition demonstrations in Venezuela have been violently repressed by government military -and sometimes civilian- forces, who throw tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at demonstrators. Dudamel urged Maduro to reduce political tensions that have left deaths, injured and thousands of arrests throughout the nation.

Venezuela Protests
“It is time to listen to the people: Enough is Enough”, said Dudamel. Image credit: EFE/Cristian Hernandez.

“We must stop ignoring the just cry of the people suffocated by an intolerable crisis,” said Dudamel. “Democracy cannot be built to fit the needs of a particular government or otherwise it would cease to be a democracy.”

Dudamel’s outcry was triggered by the death of 17-year-old musician Armando Cañizales on Wednesday. Cañizales was in a pacific demonstration in Las Mercedes, a neighborhood in Caracas, when a tear gas canister impacted him on his neck, causing a cardiac arrest that led to his death. Government officials deny that a tear gas canister caused his death and say he was injured by a shotgun, although multiple witnesses on the site saw the canister crashing against the musician.

Cañizales was a member of El Sistema musical education program, a government-funded program in which Dudamel started his career. Dudamel is currently the Los Angeles Philarmonic’s musical director, although he sometimes tours with El Sistema. The maestro’s essay bore Cañizales’s name in a black, tombstone-looking box.

El Sistema was created over four decades ago and it is one of the few institutions that has thrived in Venezuela’s past 18 years of socialist rule. The world-renowned institution connects over 400,000 Venezuelan children with classical music and its famous Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, which is led by Dudamel.

Both Venezuelan and fellow classical music performers have criticized Dudamel in the past for being a supporter of Maduro’s regime. In 2014, during a round of opposition protests that also led to many deaths, the maestro conducted a commemorative concert in Caracas, just blocks away from where a student was killed hours earlier. Then, a couple of days later he appeared alongside Maduro at Miraflores, the presidential palace, overlooking architectural plans for a concert hall being built in his honor.

In his essay, Dudamel appears to shift his political opinion and he urged his longtime supporter Maduro to put a stop to the violence that the country currently faces. He finished his essay saying that they all owe Venezuelan youth a hopeful world and a country where they can walk freely in dissent, in respect, tolerance, and dialogue.

Source: The Washington Post