Gustavo Dudamel on repression and violence in Venezuela: 'Enough is enough'

Gustavo Dudamel, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is speaking out about Venezuela.

Dudamel, the longtime face of the El Sistema music education program that has helped hundreds of thousands disadvantaged children in his native country, has long faced questions about his involvement with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro. Now Dudamel is demanding action.

The conductor met with The Times for an interview in which he discussed the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. The interview followed his posting of a 55-second Twitter video in which he grimly instructs Venezuela’s leaders to put aside their political egos and stop what he called the fratricide.

El Sistema is funded by and operated out of the executive branch of the government, and Dudamel has avoided taking sides in the political strife. With food and medicine shortages growing severe, the economy faltering and street protests turning fatal, The Times reported Tuesday that Maduro’s approval rating has fallen to 21%

On Thursday, Dudamel released a written statement, which was revised and rereleased. Here’s the full text of the revised statement:

I Raise My Voice

My entire life has been devoted to music and art as a way of transforming societies. I raise my voice against violence. I raise my voice against any form of repression. Nothing justifies bloodshed. We must stop ignoring the just cry of the people suffocated by an intolerable crisis. Extreme confrontation and polarization cannot seize common conscience and peace, constituting borders and barriers to understanding and peaceful and democratic coexistence. Historically the Venezuelans have been a fighting people but never a violent one.

For democracy to be healthy there must be true respect and understanding. Democracy cannot be built to fit the needs of a particular government or otherwise it would cease to be a democracy. The democratic exercise involves listening to the voice of the majority as the ultimate bulwark of social truth. No ideology can go beyond the common good. Politics must be exercised from conscience and in the utmost respect of the Constitution, adapting itself to a young society that, like the Venezuelan, has the right to reinvent itself through the healthy and unobjectionable democratic checks and balances.

Venezuelans are desperate for their inalienable right to well-being and the satisfaction of their basic needs. The only weapons that can be given to people are the necessary tools to forge their future: books, brushes, musical instruments; in short, those that embody the highest values of the human spirit: good, truth and beauty.

I urgently call on the President of the Republic and the national government to rectify and listen to the voice of the Venezuelan people. 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.

Gustavo Dudamel

DUDAMEL INTERVIEW: He tried to stay out of politics. Now, he’s demanding action »

mark.swed@latimes.com

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