An open letter to Gustavo Dudamel on the Venezuela situation
February 13, 2014 by Norman Lebrecht
The pianist Gabriela Montero goes public today on the disconnect between art in Venezuela and oppression. Raised in Venezuela before she moved as a child to the US, here is Gabriela’s powerful appeal:
I think the time has come for me as an ARTIST, VENEZUELAN, WOMAN AND MOTHER to write a letter to Jose Antonio Abreu and Gustavo Dudamel. I had not done it before out of affection and respect for Gustavo.
But I cannot remain silent any longer. Yesterday, while tens of thousands of peaceful protesters marched all over Venezuela to express their frustration, pain and desperation at the total civic,moral, physical, economic and human break down of Venezuela, and while the government armed militias, National Guard AND police attacked, killed, injured, imprisoned and disappeared many innocent victims, Gustavo and Christian Vazquez led the orchestra in a concert celebrating Youth Day and the 39 years of the birth of EL Sistema. They played a CONCERT while their people were being massacred.
I often use the analogy of the Titanic. The performing quartet sank with it while they continued to play their music. The music didn’t help. The music didn’t save them. Venezuela is sinking and El Sistema will sink with it. We have moved past the point of no return. Music, ambition and fame are worthless next to human suffering. They mean nothing when you are abused, injured and killed.
No more excuses. No more “Artists are above and beyond everything”.
No more ” We do it for the kids”. The 200.000 people who have been murdered in the last 15 years due to rampant violence and the opprobrious actions and language of the government, matter more than any instrument, any ideology, any profession, any amount of money, and any personal satisfaction or gain. Those same children are growing up in a country that is no longer a safe haven for them, and it is the responsibility of the leaders to shine light on the truth of the REAL situation in my country.
I love the musicians in El Sistema. Many of them are my friends and this has nothing to do with taking anything away from THEM, but the LEADERS have a moral duty to SPEAK UP and risk whatever is necessary in order to stand up against this dictatorship that we are now suppressed by.
Venezuela is on fire and it will continue to burn until the Cubans, the government and its beneficiaries give up power. I would ask you to read the news, but there is nothing in the news. The grip of the government is such that the world remains silent, blind and deaf to us.
Some Comments to this article chosen by CDV to clarify the background to the open letter:
C. De Castro says:
February 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm
The thing is, Gabriela didn’t explain in full the part Dudamel and Abreu are playng here, so maybe you don’t understand. It’s not like they are just playing concerts. They are playing concerts to the military, at official and ideological propaganda events in Venezuela. While on the streets there is struggle, on Television Dudamel is playing for the high ranks of the government at the very same act the regime is telling lies to the world, and ordering the repression of innocent people. Dudamel right now is against venezuelan collective sake.
February 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm
You know nothing about the situation in my country. The media is totally controlled by the government. We get only what they want us to watch. Two students were killed yesterday with bullets in their heads. The police and “colectivos” (violent groups protected by the government and often conformed by police members) shot to kill. The students were harmless and the protest was finished when this people came and attacked them. The government haven’t said a word about this dead students, they just mention a member of the colectivo that was murdered too in the confusion (with a bullet in his head, like I said, the students had NO weapons). We’ve got an economic crysis that everyday gets worse, we can’t afford to buy basic products like milk because you can’t find them! and when you do you can spend at least 3 hours waiting in the market until the product is gone. The insecurity in this country is killing us one by one. In 2013 were 25.000 people murdered. But you think that the students don’t have a reason to protest? Journalists, photographers and students have been sent to jail today because they spread the word of what happened yesterday. We depend only on Twitter (for the moment) to know what’s really happening in our country. Tell me, Andrew, you think that’s democracy? well, it’s not. The people are in the streets, practicing our constitutional right: to protest peacefully.