Rhinegold Photo credit: Gerardo Gomez

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Dudamel speaks out against Venezuelan government

10:21, 5th May 2017

Gustavo Dudamel has urged the government of Venezuela to ‘listen to the people’ following weeks of violent anti-government protests.

More than 30 individuals have been killed and hundreds injured since protests against President Nicolas Maduro began in early April.

In a message on his Facebook page, the conductor wrote: ‘Nothing justifies bloodshed. We must stop ignoring the just cry of the people suffocated by an intolerable crisis.’

Emphasising that democracy ‘cannot be built to fit the needs of a particular government’ and ‘involves listening to the voice of the majority’, he added: ‘No ideology can go beyond the common good.’

He concluded: ‘Times cannot be defined by the blood of our people. We owe our youth a hopeful world, a country where we can walk freely in dissent, in respect, in tolerance, in dialogue and in which dreams have room to build the Venezuela we all yearn for.

‘It is time to listen to the people: Enough is enough.’

The message was posted the day after 17-year-old string player Armando Cañizales was killed when violence erupted between protesters and the national guard at a rally. Although Cañizales’ name is not mentioned in the text, it is displayed in white text against a black background at the top of the post.

Dudamel emerged from El Sistema, the country’s celebrated music education programme, and remains music director of its flagship ensemble, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra.

He has been criticised on numerous occasions for failing to speak out against the Venezuelan regime in the past: in 2015, fellow Venezuelan Gabriela Montero has publicly accused him of ‘collaboration’ with a corrupt regime and denounced El Sistema as a ‘propaganda tool’. Later that year, he wrote an essay for the Los Angeles Times titled ‘Why I don’t talk Venezuelan politics‘.

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