An open letter to Gustavo Dudamel on the Venezuela situation

An open letter to Gustavo Dudamel on the Venezuela situation


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2014

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.

UPDATE: When you have finished reading, here is Gustavo’s reply.

gabriela montero colours

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..


  • Carlos Mariano says:

    Thank you, Gabriela. Venezuela needs more people like you.

    Mr. Lebrecht, would you mind spelling “Venezuela” correctly in your headline?

    • Pedro says:

      That is pure bla bla bla.! is very easy to talk about a country when you do not live in estarse and believing everything that comes on TV is true that Venezuela’s economy dented, but to say people who massacre is a vicious lie and a great exaggeration. Those who come to protest are small groups of middle and upper class who feel violated their privileges and they are right, but the most humble and poor people have benefited from social assistance, of course, the government will have to make a big effort to improve and that social spending is excessive and is not sustainable over time and around 80% receive this aid, plus there is a large devaluation since nothing is produced, everything is imported and that is a poor indicator .. Thank goodness there are quiet unlike the rioters small trades linked to the opposition that send horrible pictures the world to think that in my country are massacring the population, for now that’s not happening and I pray it does not happen. If you must go with Maduro that is helpful.

      • Simon says:

        Pedro, I can see that your brain is in the same zombie state as that of our leaders. So living abroad does not give you the right to care for your country? no right to form an opinion? you can’t cover the sun wifinger. The whole of Venezuela is claiming for the ouster of the illegitimate president who is not even Venezuelan. Or are you showing us his Partida de Nacimiento like that certain bitch at the CNN? Poor have benefitted you say? right, with all the billions of US$ that have come in (and stolen), this is an insult to our intelligence. Is like applying a band-aid to someone who has been bombed. WTF are you thinking about? How much are you getting paid to attack us? I won’t waste anymore time with you, all I can say is the days are numbered for this narco-cuban regime and people like you.

      • Cristobal says:

        The students protesting are not upper class, and if they were upper class most likely they would be the sons of government officials, the new elite in Venezuela, the chavistas, yes, the same communist xollege students from the 60s and 70s who were oppressed by the government back then but now that they rule the country they became the oppressors. Chavistas are as fascist as the extreme right, they say “with me or against me”, they are the real Venezuelans super patriotic and the opposition are unpatriotic and so on…blah, blah, blah. Hate, division and fear tactics…blah, blah blah. And they didnt eliminate poverty because the violent crime rate wouldnt have tripled like it did in the last 15 years despite receiving ten times more income from oil revenues than previous presidents. Nothing has changed, actually everything has gotten worse…Government corruption, inflation rate at 56%, food shortage, crime all over, long lines to buy basic goods, that hurts all social classes. Get rid of your dogmas Pedro. Its ok to disagree otherwise this world would be boring. Saludos.

      • LEONARDO says:

        Amigo Pedro, los más de 150000 muertos NO son mediáticos, el que hayan asesinado, censurado, reprimido, manipulado, abusado del poder, hace 30 años, NO justifica ni alivia a las víctimas ni familiares de los muertos de hoy. Anda al cementerio y explícales que no exageren, que los adecos y copellanos también los hacían. Muchos de ellos ni habían nacido para vivir la famosa 4ta. república que tanto critican. La inseguridad, la impunidad, la decadencia, la incapacidad, la inflación, la corrupción, NO tienen rango social, por favor, dejen el mensaje simplista, de que todo es blanco o negro, 4ta o 5ta, chavistas u oligarcas,que si la critica viene de un Venezolano en el extrajero tiene más o menos valor que si está residenciado en la locura de país que es actualmente Venezuela. Tienen más de 15 años en el poder, NO existe más el argumento de “EN EL PASADO”. Entiende que éste gobierno ES el pasado reciente, me da igual que color o ideología tengan…SON un desastre, lo mismo diría si los que estuviesen promoviendo tal desastre fuesen Republicanos, Conservadores, de izquierdas, derechas, centro etc… el punto es que nos han dividido, enfrentado, insultados, denigrados. No ver lo obvio por una ideología hueca, no escandalizarse porque hay asesinatos o porque no son de tu partido, les convierte en seres humanos limitados.

      • You are right Pedro: we must go with Maduro and his partners, Castro and Iran (the most important venezuelan comrades in international arena)! And the students: they are rich people, deserve to die, anyway!

      • fabiola says:

        People like you are the ones who make my heart ache the most. Do you think those thousands of people who get murder and kidnap per year it’s also a “vicious lie and a great exaggeration” ? Venezuela’s crisis is not only in our economy and politics, but also in our society. This government has taken Venezuela to poverty, has broken families and generated a lot of hate among our people. Chavez and this government gave “the most humble people and poor people” not only a chance to be better, but the opportunity of taken other ones lives in the process. Venezuela is full of hate, because of people like you. People who live with their eyes closed and consider that what;s going on right now it’s not a massacre but rather a “vicious lie and great exaggeration.” People like you are the ones who are killing our society. You so brained washed that I don’t even know it’s worthy for me to post this.

      • Edu More says:

        Buena réplica Mariano

      • m says:

        A can see you enjoyed the concert very much. Good for you! By the way, I´m certain you feel safe when you go out and around Caracas since criminality must also be a vicious lie and great exaggeration.

      • Carlos Sardi Liendo (venezolano que vive en venezuela) says:

        Small groups?

        Who is not living in Venezuela?

        You’re out on the street these days is that you only see or VTV?

        Before condemning any accusation do not prepare for the role of puppet of his master …

        I´ll be at Shoping Center corner in Valencia waiting for you to se the small grup you say ¿ok?

      • Axel says:

        So for you is ok that you have to do a line of X hours to find basic food, or perphas is ok to go hunting for toillet paper. The murder rates per year are not fabrication by TV, the 3 dead students also are not fabricated as some of the chavistas that died were dead long time ago and they killed them again…

        You have to be blind and retarded (my apologies to people with dissabilities, but i cannot find better words) to believe everything is nice in Venezuela and that only middle and upper class are protesting in the streets, poor people is poorer.

      • Carlos Sardi Liendo (venezolano que vive en venezuela) says:

        Just so you can see the “small group” and this is only one of hundreds through the country

      • Erika Rovaina says:

        Anda para que te den por ese trasero!!!! Ayuda social? Miseria social es lo que a dado este gobierno al pueblo. Hablan de una atención médica pública que cuando necesitas de su atención no hay medicinas y te mandan a comprarlas en la farmacia y si la consigues te curas, porque también hay escasees de medicamento. Para encontrar los productos alimenticios hay que hacer colas inmensas bajo el intenso calor del trópico, sin importar la condición de la persona, de tercera edad, embarazada o discapacitado, etc! Puro bozal de arepa es lo que ha dado este gobierno; migajas y peor aún es el pueblo que se conforma. Pobre país, pobre pueblo!!!! edad, embarazada o discapacitado, etc! Puro bozal de arepa es lo que ha dado este gobierno; migajas y peor aún es el pueblo que se conforma. Pobre país, pobre pueblo!!!!

      • Ivan says:

        If the poorest in your country are remaining quiet, then of course it’s because of the social assistance! This is called oppression! No woman who has been a victim of physical abuse would disagree. They have no choice. They also have no ambition, which is why the middle and upper classes are protesting. The people who actually invest in their own country are trying to protect the little they do have.

      • leonardo mutti says:

        Pedro. I dont know where are you from, but IF YOU DONT KNOW DOMETHING DONT TALK ABOIT IT!!!! Venezuela IS BURNING… o dont go down to your level because I do love my country like gabriela. Shit the f… up. Go out in caracas and suvive, tell the families of the srudents dead that is a lie…. please if you believe ehat the goverment say then you are one of the with your bank acount ful of money and your moral very far away from reality. Venezuela is sufering and who ever disagree is with the dictator. Gabriel I hope Dudamel and all the other baisbalk players and venezuelans around the world that havent sell their soul to money and power rise their voices so this nightmare end soon. Venezuela need help, dont let her standing alone. Thanks.

      • The objective is the DUdamel and MAestro Abreu can continue with their passion with a social impact. They are not politicians and they try to get the best out influencing thousands of kids and young people with their passion that bottomline is music.

        Im part of the opposition in Venezuela and I really want Maduro and all this gang of ladrones to go out of Venezuela. But I also understand how hard it is for people that are trying to be changemakers in the systems through social entrepreneurship or thorugh art like Maestro Abreuu and Dudamel to take political sides. At the end the objective is to have a better country for them. I think that is important to support their work but not force them to take a political side//ideology.

        I’m sure that with the next government they will still and do the best they can for the country anyway.

        Gabriela MOntero you choose like me and thousands of people to tell what we think is the truth, but I is our responsibility also to respect others fears and thinking. At the end dudamel and abreu did and incrdible job during the last 11 years and they will much betterwhen we get rid of this dictatorship of maduro in venezuela

      • Kat Alicia says:

        Pedro – you have been totally brainwashed. Try thinking for yourself. Try using common sense .Pray for your country, my country, with devotion. Speak less, observe more. Analyze. Think. Project in to the future. What do you see? what do hope for your future, and the future of our children? What do you wish for our country??? … Or are you in favor of this criminal regime just for your own benefit….are you selling your soul, your moral values, your people and your country just for some money? If so, Pedro, I’m afraid you will be very disappointed, and your bubble is about to burst right before your eyes! Following this sick path is not going to take you very far….and you can be sure that it will be a huge heavy regret that you’ll carry with you day and night of the rest of your life!

        Any way, good luck with your decisions!!!

    • leiff sven says:

      hay muchas personas como ella estamos claro en esto con ideales, aunque sean errados para mi o los míos errados para ella, (estudiantes pacíficos) no se… por aca era normal hace mas de veinte años llevar perdigones de goma en las protestas universitarias, ir presos , jóvenes estudiantes muertos,quemar carros, parar las clases para vacacionar, la diferencia ahora es mediática, de todo se hace un escandalo y de nada se dice privacion de los derechos y esas pendejadas que hace mas de veinte años nos calabamos sin tanta propaganda ni internacionalidad

      • Rosana says:

        Disculpen si mi comentarios los ofende Pedro y Leiff, pero sinceramente, lo unico que leo en los comentarios de arriba es MEDIOCRIDAD Y CONFIRMISMO! Si ustedes, quieren vivir en esa Venezuela donde hay 25 mil muertos cada año, donde la gente suplicar comprar comida, donde comparamos el “hace 20 años” con el presente, donde siguen creyendo que “una minoría” es la que no esta con el Gobierno y en total en un Pais irreconocible por los que nacimos y crecimos ahi. Perfecto! Pero recuerden que la mitad de Venezuela no quiere eso. Que la mitad de Venezuela quiere progresar, salir al trabajo sin miedo de que quizas no vuelvan, superarse, tener comida para llevar a sus casas y sobre todas las cosas saber que sus derechos van a ser respetados y que el Gobierno es el primero en promoverlos y garantizar esos derechos.

        Buenos Dias.

      • Eva says:

        Bien dicho. Cada uno tiene su opinión acerca de la “realidad” particular que ve aquí o allá, ni que Dudamel o Abreu vayan a solucionar el problema. Aparte de todo, Dudamel vive mas afuera que aquí. Que boba.

        • axel says:

          una figura publica tiene que tomar una posición, sobre todo cuando se asesinan jóvenes estudiantes. La posición del maestro Abreu o de Gustavo puede traer una reacción en cadena, ya que son personas estimadas y con proyección mundial que si condenan los hechos y al gobierno puede traer un mayor escrutinio de las instancias internacionales.

          pero es normal que una persona que llama boba a una talentosa artista, no entienda los entramados de las relaciones internacionales, asi que Eva calladita te ves mas bonita

      • coromoto torres says:

        No soy de responder este tipo de comentarios pero imagino que también debe ser” normal” q maten todos los días y ningun plan de seguridad funcione, deber ser normal q el “dueño” de finanzas declare q hasta el año 2013 no sabian como se distribuyeron los dolares que ahora nos vuelven a limitar, q semanalmente hayan mas de 30 muertes, cadivi por mas de 10años, q no haya papel, hacer colas por horas para comprar comida, que cada vez mas empresas cierren, etc etc etc etc…el q no entienda los reclamos q hacen los estudiantes que además van asociados a los niveles de agresividad y represion, falta de insumos básicos e inseguridad que sufrimos A DIARIO no vive en Venezuela…entonces por que esos niveles de respuesta armada y represiva si solo protestan?…”de “nada”se hace un escandalo?” Increíble leer eso…

  • Brian says:


    • York Stever v.Niekrenz says:

      Excelent Gabriela !!!

      • says:


      • leiff sven says:

        que sencillo y fácil es ver la vida desde un horizonte tranquilo sin estar acá para saber la realidad de mi país, me parecen comentarios facilistas, aun no se que quieren los estudiantes, que exigen, que proponen, solo veo violencia y destrucción, como sera allá en eeuu cuando pasan cosas así. sera que allá el gobierno deja que quemen y destruyan todo con indiferencia

        • Alejandra V. says:

          Leiff, Gabriela es la artista venezolana que más y mejor difunde el amor a su patria y el orgullo de ser venezolana en el mundo. Si no vive en Venezuela es porque es imposible para un pianista desarrollar una carrera musical en ese país y tuvo que abrirse un futuro profesional fuera. Pero ella solía ir continuamente a venezuela… Hasta que el Régimen se lo prohibió. Así que NO puedes decir que es fácil hablar desde fuera. Es muy difícil hablar desde fuera, sobre todo cuando amas tanto a tu país.

  • Daniel Farber says:

    An excellent retort to Lickspittle Dudamel. Would that she have done it earlier—while President Chavez was still around, but much better late than never. c.f. “My Kronnstadt was Kronnstadt.”—Daniel Bell

    • Marguerite Foxon says:

      She has spoken out before, but not directly challenged other musicians by name as here.

    • That’s it. I don’t understand this kind of “genius”. Really, I don’t believe them if they are blind to reality living on music-nutshells. Bravo Gabriela: in classical world you alone spoke from the beginning about all that chaos that now has unfortunately become a real tragedy!

  • G Ell says:

    I am in agreement with Ms. Montero but not totally. In an increasingly chaotic world, in a world where fewer and fewer of us day after day have any say or power over what goes on, art can act and must be allowed to act as an antidote. Artists, thus, must be free to do what they do best for our collective sake. But I agree that artists should also be free to speak out against barbarism without adverse consequences.

    • C. De Castro says:

      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.

      • De acuerdo con Ud. es una burla para todo el país…….darles concierto a los que están destruyendo la patria y a sus ciudadanos……eso es un horror….y nadie debe de aceptarlo permitirlo…..donde esta la comunidad internacional….que no levanta su voz….o porque no envían militares para sacar a estos maniáticos y locos del poder!

    • Henry says:

      You are right, but an Artist can’t keep playing a concert celebrating the Youth, while the government is killing people every day (including youth), and yesterday the police, the army and citizens armed by Chavez and his friends tried to kill our hopes to have a country of peace and freedom, so what does Mr. Dudamel have to celebrate?

  • Michael Shapiro says:

    About time someone spoke up about the hypocrisy and quasi Furtwaengler-like in bed with the scoundrels.

  • Doug says:

    Now, this is what really and truly speaking truth to power means.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you so much Gabriela for your courage and honesty. It takes strong values to stand against public figures, you are a true role model.

  • Andrew says:

    Why is it self-evident that these (violent) protesters are in the right? Are all students protests well-founded? Just because things in Venezuela are really tough, is it the governments fault? This woman is fighting dirty by dragging other people in, people who have done wonderful work for the citizenry. Once again, it’s probably all about getting attention for herself.

    It would be a grave mistake to let the arts become a tool of leftists in the eyes of governments. It would then become quite convenient to quash the arts in the future.

    These two great men owe nobody any sort of political statement.

    • Sam McElroy says:

      You are so wrong, and irresponsibly so. Why is it that when someone has the dignity to stand up for what is right, they are accused of seeking attention for themselves? What trivial nonsense!

      Gabriela is pointing to the total collapse of a society and asking those in a position of leadership to demand better from those in power, to take a MORAl stance, not a political one. Gabriela is not attacking El Sistema, and is fully aware of the benefit of art to ALL societies. That is why she is an artist. She is pointing to the hard truth that her native country has descended into a total civic, moral and economic meltdown, and that once it sinks, there will be no country left for anyone, let alone the musicians.

      25,000 citizens were murdered there last year in a population of 30 million as a result of civic decay, of which 92% go uninvestigated. Did any single conductor at any time make a public call for the restoration of law and order amid such violence? Caracas is now the world’s most deadly capital city. Why is this message not clear to you? How bad does it need to get before someone of conscience can speak out without the accusation of self-promotion.

      And Gabriela takes this stand knowing that she will not be invited to play any more with any of the orchestras around the world whose conductors come from El Sistema. She is already getting this message, loud and clear. She is already seeing the effects of her honesty. But she simply does not care about that! Imagine that! An artist who puts human dignity in front of her own career! That is the point! She is prepared to take whatever they throw at her to tell the truth, and to encourage those who are in a position to speak out to do so. She is trying to save a nation from becoming a failed state. She is trying to avoid the iceberg, so the whole ship can stay afloat, the quartet with it. She deserves support, not mindless clichés!

      • Drewman says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Some people rather turn their backs on their own than sacrifice their career or social status. It’s a shame that Venezuela is living such a terrible situation. Nobody seems to be willing to stand up and raise their voice against all abuses that government has committed so far.

      • Ghyra says:


      • Walter Delahunt says:

        You’re absolutely right, Sam. It’s all very fine to criticise a moral stand when one doesn’t give a crap about human life. Or any life.

    • Amanda says:

      Wow. Seriously, read the news. Until then, don’t make ignorant comments. Have you been living under a rock? Have you not seen what has been happening in Venezuela since 1998 when Chavez rose to power? Are you not aware of the nationalization of the majority of business and the scarcity of basic products such as eggs and toilet paper in Venezuela? Are you not aware of Venezuela’s inflation rate of 56%? Did you even know that because of Chavez’s “government” over 200,000 have been killed in the last 15 years? That’s more than Americans killed in wars since 1950. IGNORANT.

      • Eva says:

        She’s not talking about a reality that does not live in my country. Clearly says that he is living in USA. Here we do not live in a dictatorship, nor was a slaughter and if we saw the news on what was happening. What a way to lie!

    • Tony says:

      You have no idea of what is going on in venezuela.This is about freedom.First we should act as citizens.Gabriela needs no attention for herself.This is a dictaorship my friend

    • Oh Andrew, don’t measure other people from yourself, ok? These two “great men” are the ones who could avoid – if they spoke loud – murders and the two dictatorships that is collapsing Venezuela. Gabriela has no need to claim for attention this way: on the contrary, she could be in her own country if, as this two weak men, behave cowardly and remained mute. But there are people who prefer to be in charge.

    • petra perez says:

      Mr Andrew, with all due respect: shut up! When you cannot be seated in a classroom during a class in peace, because a grup of thieves with fire guns go into this classroom and steal your cellphone, your money and even your live you “are in the right”. Students have the right to protest because they are being killed and robbed and government DOES NOTHING to keep them safe. Government PROTECTS these groups of assassins

    • Heripewe says:

      You obviously know nothing about Venezuela. Your comment is completely out of context.

    • Alicia says:

      Let me ask you something Mr. Andrew: Are YOU Venezuelan?


      People are DYING in OUR country, the are being massacred, and yes, IT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S FAULT…. and NOBODY can deny it. PERIOD.

      I don’t know who you are, or where you are from, or who you “play” for….but in ANY case, you need to inform yourself more…. or simply shut up and stay out of this.

      This is NOT against the Arts…. This is about LIFE!!!! it’s about REAL PEOPLE DYING under a CANCEROUS REGIME!!!!!!! (Don’t you read…. or, at least, watch the news?)

      Your statement is flawed, and again, very ignorant.

      What Gabriela is saying is totally TRUE. And as Venezuelan, she has the right (as I do too, and all the Venezuelans suffering this heartbreaking situation have as well) to call out to Gustavo for his indifference and lack of support to his OWN PEOPLE in such a critical day like yesterday was!!!

      Do you have any idea what was going on in the streets while he was playing…? You either don’t have a clue…. or perhaps you are part of the problem we are living in Venezuela!

      FYI, the sentiment that Gabriela expresses is the same we all feel as Venezuelans!!! Total disappointment…!

    • Paulina says:

      Andrew,obviously you don’t know what you are talking about…… You have no idea what the venezuelan people are going through…… You better find out before you speak….. Venezuelan government is corrupt, ignorant, bad, violent, unlegitimate, and under cuban control…….

    • C. De Castro says:

      Well, Andrew, it’s not self evident to you, but for us, living in Venezuela right now, it is. One thing that should be self evident for you, anyway, is the fact that this government has been in office for 15 years, taking oil money equivalent to 200 years of previous income in Venezuela, and the result is economic collapse. I’m sorry. 15 years continuously in power?. Anything that happens is the government’s fault.

      Dudamel and Abreu, through the years, in fact became political tools for this down hill. I’ve witnessed too many ideological propaganda events with Dudamel as main act, to be able to think otherwise.

    • John Straw says:

      Silence is consent.

    • soledad says:

      I would like you to come to my country and walk on the streets at 10pm or 5pm as you do in yours without being afraid to be kill. I invite you to come over and wacht the long lines people have to make everyday in front of the supermarkets to buy milk,chicken or even the basis of our national bread la arepa. I also invite you and talk to the many people who has lost their jobs during the last 15 years and somebelove one has been also kill. I invite you to come over and walk with me as I did yesterday with my friends and students to complain about what it is happennig here. I would love you had been here with us thousands and thousands of people without a gun just with our believe for a better country. I invite you to come over and try to get as a venezuelan a simple passaport to travel outside,,,i also invite you to go on a public transportation to the barrios and try not to be kill…¡ If you have time during your visit you also can try to go around the shopping centers and see what they have can aslotry not to be kidnapped …I can continue writting for hours…about our situation…but not I just want invite you to come over and then you can talk¡¡

      Gustavo Dudamel is a respected person in our country and so is Gabreila Montero and Mr Abreu..but yesterday we had national holiday for the youngest and we saw after a pacific demosntration how they kill hree students…there was no place for a celebration is our time for calm our grieve…Thats the reason Gabriela Montero wrote her letter .Please dont talk if you dont know our country, people and needs

      with respect

      a venezuelan

    • Manuel says:

      Mr. Andrew:

      I will try to answer to your arguments in the same order you drafted them:

      Protesters were not violent at all. Hundreds of thousands of people went out yesterday to peacefully protest against the rampant insecurity which killed around 200.000 Venezuelans in 15 years, until they were ambushed by militia armed by the government. And YES, the situation is all the Government’s fault, since Venezuela received on that same period of time more than a billion dollars on oil wages and did nothing to improve the population living standards, other than giving away insuficient amounts of money to the poorest. Gabriela is neither fighting dirty, nor dragging attention, she is simply speaking out her soul, because she suffers as we all do seeing our country sinking. As per the “leftist” adjective, the only group of people which claims to be leftist in Venezuela is precisely the Government and its accolites. I would like to invite you to our country to see samples of the official arts, for you to reach your own conclusions about their quality or taste. Finally, I believe that being Mr. Abreu a political figure of the pre Chavista era he has a lot to explain.

    • Daniela says:

      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.

    • Ingrid says:

      Geesh Andrew, you sure did step on a live wire. Please read this and understand better. ….Gabriela has her opinion and the other two have to deal with it. They take the money ans stay silent…its wrong for a lot of us.

  • Patrick says:

    Is the Dude Venezuela’s version go Gergiev?

    I applaud Ms. Montero’s willingness to speak out, and hope for the best for her country.

  • Nelson Armitano says:

    Bravo Gabriela! .. You are not late at all. You are right as always and on the spot. We know you have spoken earlier and with such courage, with Chávez alive and afterwards … The country needs more voices like yours so the world takes notice of this tragedy. The region needs it too.

    • Beret says:

      Yes Bravo Gabriela and Nelson you are right, as are the others who see this situation for the disgusting nazi- like farce it has been since 1998 . Human rights do not exist in Venezuela ! God knows when it will end !

  • nyer says:

    Excellent essay – I would critique, however, the assertion that only the leaders of the El Sistema and its orchestras are on the hook for taking a principled stance. The players, too, even if they are your friends and you love them, should also be held responsible if, indeed, they are fiddling while Rome burns. Arguably their responsibility is less than Dudamel and Abreu, but they are not innocent bystanders.

  • Alexbrasa says:

    It’s about oil.

  • Catherine-Grace Patrick says:

    I deeply admire your courage, Gabriela, and certainly your brave devotion to country and it’s beleaguered citizens. The good people of Venezuela and you shall remain in my prayers, that peace will be restored and that this killing will stop. Such heinously sad circumstances. Bless you! Catherine-Grace

  • Ademir says:

    She played with Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira when the group was in the middle of a crisis and 40 musicians had just been dismissed and a multitude of recitalists had refused to play with them: She does not give a shit!

    By the way, the dismissed musicians later has formed another group and one of its concerts has been appointed as finalist to Opera Awards 2014, in the category anniversary production, for their rendition of Britten’s One summers night dream :

    • Halldor says:

      With respect, and without denying that the Brazilan musicians were treated poorly, there’s a significant difference between an orchestral labour dispute and a government killing its own citizens.

    • Don’t be foolish: we are talking about a real thing here, people being murdered and a non democratic government at the country next to you. It is not a employment matter and your link – in this post, about a real drama – is shameful. Please, grow up!

      • Ademir says:

        Dear ocidentalismo, which part of “she does not give a shit” you dont understand? Some people in Venezuela are being paid to hit the streets and create a terror ambience in order to destabilize Maduro’s govern. Its a plot. Its about oil, and, apparently, Gabriela has entered the game…

        • Gabriela Montero says:

          Ademir: What you write is totally misinformed. No one is paying the students to protest! And they were not riots- they were peaceful demonstrations until the government militias began firing on innocent people as the march was dissipating. This is not a game. And for many it is about money and that is precisely the problem. Corruption is rampant within the government, outside the government, within El Sistema. Everywhere.

          • Wanderer says:

            Mrs. Montero, as a matter of fact, you don’t know for fact who is paid for what or not. You are not in the streets, neither are you a CIA insider (I assume). Please let’s stay reasonable and stick to the facts.

        • Ok Ademir, so you can publicize your awards while there are people dying. It is about oil, hum? Gabriela probably needs a lot of it living in europe. But you? Oh, it’s right, there is no oil in Brazil, so you must be worried about your career! What a shame!

          • Ademir says:

            No, I was shocked that, in the middle of a real conflict (of labor, for sure) and of an international boycott, Mrs. Montero could so insensibly accept to play with a fake orchestra poorly assembled in the place of the real one, dismissed. She already clarified her attitude in a post somewhere bellow this one, alleging that she plays with to much people and didnt was aware (maybe she should try to, since she is asking for a compromise of other artists now).

            I put the link to the award just to point to the quality of the dismissed musicians, much denigrated by the managers back then, and now I realise it could look like I was using this space for their promotion. It wasnt my intention, and I apologise, for it has been unbecoming. I also apologise with Mrs. Montero for that, apparently, she does care, since she opened a time in her eventful agenda to talk to us.

            But I will not apologise for not being well informed about Venezuela’s real situation now, and that is because the same thing is happening in Brazil at this very moment. Nobody knows for which side the actors are playing and there are enough evidence of subterraneous manipulation, with manifesters being payed to create a violent state of things. So I dont need to know all the story to call attention to the fact that there is a clear attempt to demoralise Venezuela’s goverment. One of those attempts could very well be an effort to convince Abreu and Dudamel (a very proeminent venezuelan personality) to manifest themselves against the government, which will probably mean an extra point to Maduro’s opponents (here is the place for the oil, which ocidentalismo seems not to know where to put) and the end of El Sistema as we know. Mrs. Montero can or can not be just as innocent as the people in Venezuela streets.

        • Gonout Backson says:

          Funny. This is exactly what could be read about Hungary in 1956, Tchechoslovakia in 1968, Poland several times, about Ukraine ten years ago and again today. Seems to come from the same word factory, BTW. These people must have got a lot on money to go out, get shot, or stand for weeks in freezing cold. Do you know the rate per capita?

          • Gonout Backson says:

            Mr. ANDRE VLTCHEK’s paper is exactly what I mean. It could have been copied and pasted from the fifties, sixties, seventies… Recently, some of these people went as far as to galvanize good old Wilfred Burchett as an “independent source”… You don’t even need to know what’s REALLY happening in Venezuela. Just listen to this kind of music, and suddenly all becomes very clear. Watch the “therapy”, and you’ll know what the diagnosis was, and who has made it.

  • Charles Ogilvy says:

    Bravo Mrs Montero indeed!

    Some months I took issue with Mrs Montero on this site regarding the very same subject and her husband tried to come to her rescue with not very convincing arguments. Now I understand better why she felt a need not to criticize Dudamel and Abreu.

    But it is never too late and I applaud Mrs Montero’s bravery. It’s not an easy path she is taking but one has to admire her courage to stand up for what is right.

    I am very curious to see what goodness will come out of Dudamel and Abreu now and if they will block or try to censure Mrs Montero in some way. I don’t think Dudi would do anything of the kind but Abreu would certainly not hesitate. He is ruthless and as much of a dictator as many are in his country, although he is very clever at giving another impression. There is no denying he has done great things, but the man is ruthless and I know of it first hand.

    By the way, have any of you noticed that Dudi no longer wears a wedding ring when he conducts? I wonder what is going on there too….probably not good for Dudi to give impression of marriage troubles if that is the reason of course.

  • Maigualida Lopez says:

    As well as Pablo Casals and Rostropovich, Ms Montero is facing same situation with her country, shame on Dudamel And Vasquez who was conducting a “mambo” while citizens were massacred.

  • Gracias Gabriela por tu carta, hasta anoche admiré a José Antonio Abreu y a Gustavo Dudamel y por tu carta puedo ver que también estaba en el concierto Christian Vazquez, no tuve estómago ni fuerza para verlos. Hoy no puedo sino rechazarlos y me duele, pero me pareció que ayer en la noche nos dieron una enorme cachetada a TODOS LOS VENEZOLANOS, mientras habían asesinado a muchachos venezolanos, con heridos, detenidos y mucho dolor, ellos en su concierto. Gustavo Dudamel podrá ser un genio en la música pero definitivamente carece de lo mas importante que debe tener todo ser humano, SENSIBILIDAD.

  • Raul says:

    …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. And apart of “speaking up” your political views, what are you risking woman? You are not even living there but in the commodities of the first world…

  • Mo says:

    Gabriela, sadly, adding to the Titanic analogy, there is the Holocaust analogy,did yo know that concentration camp newcomers were greeted with Classical Music? and that the Nazi German Leadership was delighted in attending classic music recitals while their execution trains and afctories were working full steam ahead?

  • LGR says:

    Bravo Gabriela! Thank you so much for your brave words!

    May Dudamel share the luck of those who betray their fellow citizens, may he find no peace until there is justice.

  • Gabriela says:

    Gabriela, tu debes saber también la cantidad de intereses que hay en Fundamusical, como en el último tiempo se politizó y como al que no le ha gustado algo y ha expresado su opinión simplemente lo cambian de la Bolívar B a la A. El sistema hace muchísimo tiempo dejó su visión inicial para adecuarse a los fundamentos de la revolución. Gustavo siempre ha sido partidario del chavismo. No es un secreto para nadie. Y el maestro Abreu siempre ha bailado al son que le toquen para asegurar la supervivencia de la fundación. Saludos de una colega y compatriota

  • David Boxwell says:

    She seems to have convinced herself that Venezuela was some kind of Utopia before Chavez and “the Cubans”.

    • nat says:

      David, Venezuela was never the perfect place to live. I grew up with coups d’états, molotovs and, my favorite, tear gas. Toilet paper has always been missing. But even I who left the country 20 years ago because it was totally dysfunctional could not imagine this level of dystopia, violence and food crisis. Especially considering the country’s quite decent income. So can we please leave the irony behind? Thanks. (and yes, we Venezuelans are excessively sensitive this days 😉

  • Rafael Galindo says:

    Grande Gabriela… Grande como artista… Grande como Mujer… Grande como Madre… Grande como Patriota!!!

  • says:

    Muy bien Gabriela…!! Tendrias que publicarlo en castellano tambien: un cuchillo caliente a la mantequilla…!

  • Lia Socorro says:

    Congratulations Gabriela, you are one of the brave and courage women of Venezuela, well done and God bless you for ever.

  • Zulma Núñez says:

    I am deeply touched by your letter and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your courage. I also admire Dudamel, but in life there are some values that are not negotiable or ignored, Living and fighting in Venezuela every day gives me the right to ask Dudamel to stand up for all the venezuelans who are suffering and struggling every day for simple things such as food. He has benefited from this country and It seems that he put a fold in his eyes and go on, no matter what the government is doing. I was present yesterday and witness that the violence was brought by the government. Students were killed, tortured and dissapeared. The social decay we are living is not longer sustained. Maybe Dudamel can have the food he wants, travel abroad with all the dollars he needs, has security all the time, but not all venezuelans are living like him. So, Dudamel, stand up and take position, like Gabriela and many artists are doing.

  • Edgar says:

    Bravo Gabriela, Venezuela is living a nightmare and most of the leaders in the region and the world remains silent, blind and deaf to the situation. Most of them are getting some benefit from the Venezuelan oil money which is running out thanks of the bad administration and rampant corruption of the government and their supporters.

    No matter how good a reputation Dudamel might have, it is a great pity that his politics mirror those of Wagner.

    I’m a Venezuelan myself and won’t remain silent while the country gets invaded by Cuba and their criminal ways of treating people that are against their ideology.

    I will not support Dudamel in any way and hope his international career suffers from his support of the most corrupted and criminal dictatorship in the history of Venezuela.

  • Gonzalo says:


  • Susan Goda says:

    Excellent letter – I agree this should be published in Spanish and sent to the NY Times.

  • Cesar Maurera says:

    About time someone said it… Bravo Gaby

  • juan perez says:

    Dudamel is; un hijoeputa

  • Novagerio says:

    Hmm….and in Sotji La Netrebko was entertaining Putin and the entire world who cared to watch the Opening, while the poor chief electrician of the entire show was found dead next day due to a “fatal mistake” concerning the illumination of the Olympic Rings….ok, maybe artists are/should be politically immune afterall….

  • juan says:

    BRAAVO!!!!!!!! Gabriela. It is an honor to share a nationality with you

  • Verónica says:

    Valiente! Mejor dicho imposible, Gabriela! Necesitamos más artistas y mas venezolanos como tu ! Gracias!

  • marisol says:

    Thank you

    gabriela, while they were killing young people , dudamel, Servando and Florentino were singing and celebrating i dont know what !!! painful words and real!!

    • Dory Banga says:

      As a Cuban let me tell you that’s the way they do it. The more dead more celebrations. You cannot imagine what a Communist would do, the unimagible. The Catro brothers trained Chavez and if he took that training and passed it on to other militaries in Venezuela (God Forbid) you are in for a long ride and a lot of surprises. May God Bless Venezuela and it’s people. Can this be solve without any more youth dying and that they can be free soon.

  • Jimena says:

    Gracias por tu valentía! Asumes la vocería de muchos que criticamos y consideramos a Abreu-Dudamel-El Sistema unos colaboracionistas. Ni más ni menos. Eres una artista completa, tienes alma.

  • Omar says:

    Excellent!!! You are the best!!!

  • I don’t fully agree. Yes, I believe it is important of artists to stand up for what they believe in and advocate for what is right, in fact I’m very passionate about music making social change and a positive impact in the world. However, I disagree that art and music is of no help. Would the quartet on the titanic have been able to save the ship or even themselves? Perhaps they did help those a little come to grips that they were about to die and give them some peace.

    Montero is also in a very different position than Dudamel and especially Abreu, as from what I can gather she has lived outside Venezuela for a long time, while Abreu lives there, and she is in a much safer place, literally and metaphorically, to speak out against the government than Abreu. Additionally, if Abreu spoke out, El Sistema would probably disappear very quickly and all the good it has done over the past 39 years. Abreu has consciously cooperated with and tolerated every regime that has come to power during that time because he believes in El Sistema and the good that it can do, despite the powers that linger above it. I highly doubt he will ever come out and criticize any government that is supporting his dream and the wonderful things he is doing. He would lose everything, perhaps even his life.

    The biggest issue here is, can Dudamel and Abreu do more to help the Venezuelan people by speaking out from their positions of power, or through the work they have been and continue to do? I do not think it is possible for them to do both.

    • marisol says:

      i just saw dadamel hugging maduro……they almost cried endeep …..pathetic !!!

    • David says:

      Keane, very wise words. I couldn’t agree with you more. Gabriela is only one of many who feel anger and outrage towards the VZ government, but her anger is (and apparently many others) misplaced when she starts to aim it at people like Abreu, Gustavo, and the musicians of El Sistema. These are the people who have actually stayed and sacrificed their lives for the past 40 years to make VZ a better place to live, which is more than I can say for Ms. Montero. She is the opposite of a hero. Heroes are people who have something to lose. Anyone can sit in their nice NYC apartment and write holier-than-thou letters on Facebook when there is no risk; Abreu and the hundreds of thousands of people in ES have everything to lose. At least the people of ES have given, and continue to give, their lives towards making a difference in Venezuela. What has Gabriela done for the people of VZ?

  • carlos says:

    Creo que tienes una gran fuerza Gabriela y proviene de tus convicciones, que no se acomodan al poder, como pareciera pasa con otros, gracias por tu fe y esperanza en un país justo, un país distinto…

  • Ricardo says:

    Thank you for opening your thoughts and speak out.

    In my country Venezuela there are armed men willing to kill in the name of their government, people that after years and decades of neglect saw in their “supreme commander” the late president Hugo Chavez a leader that understood them, had similar origins, spoke for them, and what i think most importantly, used the same language of violence and hatred for the wealthier and those who were ideologically different , He nurture that hatred over the years and made it a radical movement. These men have in their hands military weapons. And since most of them can operate in the blind side of the “law” their extremely powerful, have influence inside prisons, ministries and manage organized crime. All of these granted to them in order to create a loyal militia that can respond in cases of protest, industrial strikes and all that can put in jeopardy the now ruling party PSUV. Public figures are important to create the PSUV´s international propaganda and many of them do not feel as accomplices they feel their playing a part just for the sake of art. Even while the titanic feels like its going straight for an iceberg, even as it sinks.

  • mhtetzel says:

    Gabriela, you are so right and I salute you.

  • David says:

    I think this is an easy letter to write from the comfort of Gabriela’s New York apartment or fancy hotel room as she travels the world concertizing. She left Venezuela a long time ago while the leaders and teachers of El Sistema have been working to make life better for hundreds of thousands of people STILL living there. What has she done for the people of Venezuela as she has been traveling around the world making a name for herself. The leaders and teachers of El Sistema have been doing what they can for over 40 years in that country to make a better life for its citizens. What would life without ES have been like for Venezuela?

    They rely on funding from the government. If they go against the government and lose the funding then hundreds of thousands of people lose and the government is STILL corrupt. This is a simplistic view espoused from an outsider (Gabriela) and from very far away. Do you really think that if Dudamel or Abreu speaks out against the government that they will suddenly say, “Oh wow, I’ve never thought of it that way. Why didn’t you say something before? Thank you for letting us know that our government has been corrupt all these years. We’re sorry.” How naive!

    Of course, what is happening in VZ is a horrible travesty, but ES is the only positive thing still alive in that country. If ES disappears then there is no hope. It is a complex political situation and not easily solved by a concert pianist’s public display of naivety. Abreu and the thousands of people of ES did not leave their country for a better life. They stayed and have made a difference in spite of the total corruption, which is more than can be said of Gabriela. The people of ES are the real heroes and real warriors for peace.

    • Miguel says:

      ¿Así que para poder expresar una crítica u opinión de tu país natal tienes que vivir en él? Es más, ¿acaso no podemos opinar de la situación de Korea del Norte o de Palestina/Israel o de Sochi o de cualquier lugar del mundo?

      Lo que ha escrito Gabriela, más allá de no estar poniendo su vida en la línea como nuestros estudiantes Venezolanos, es una realidad que estamos viviendo y que ella, por ser la artista y persona pública que es, hace más notoria.

      Y tal vez no se trata de que solamente Dudamel y Abreu tomen una posición decente y evidencien la situación, sino de que todos, incluso desde fuera de Venezuela, alcemos la voz para detener este ultraje a nuestra nación, a nuestra patria, a nuestra gente.

      Quisiera ya escuchar las voces de todos nuestros hermanos latinoamericanos en favor de que retorne la cordura a nuestro gobierno, lo que únicamente puede suceder si se retiran quienes actualmente detentan el poder (no el gobierno, sino el poder: poder hacer, poder asesinar, poder robar, …) y se modifica Este Sistema.

      Espero que tu comentario no sea el de un Chavista sino tan solo el de otro compatriota desesperado.

  • Waldo says:

    While I understand and admire the sentiment of Montero’s letter, I can’t fully agree. If Dudamel or Abreu spoke out against Maduro’s government, El Sistema would rapidly disappear. The hundreds of thousands of students who use El Sistema as their lifeline in their deteriorating country would suddenly be left without this safety net. This situation is horrific, but to act like Abreu and Dudamel can just criticize a lunatic like Maduro without profound consequences for the students of El Sistema is naive.

    Remember, El Sistema is not just the Simon Bolivar Orchestra that the world knows so well. It is small nucleos all over the country that are literally saving lives. Should this go away so that the world can hear Dudamel and Abreu state the obvious?

  • G Ell says:

    The violence and terror engulfing Caracas and other cities and towns in Venezuela are also known quantities in cities and towns across Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, to name a few. Where is the outcry?

  • Kat Alicia says:

    Let me ask you something Mr. Andrew: Are YOU Venezuelan?


    People are DYING in OUR country, the are being massacred, and yes, IT IS THE GOVERNMENT’S FAULT…. and NOBODY can deny it. PERIOD.

    I don’t know who you are, or where you are from, or who you “play” for….but in ANY case, you need to inform yourself more…. or simply shut up and stay out of this.

    This is NOT against the Arts…. This is about LIFE!!!! it’s about REAL PEOPLE DYING under a CANCEROUS REGIME!!!!!!! (Don’t you read…. or, at least, watch the news?)

    Your statement is flawed, and again, very ignorant.

    What Gabriela is saying is totally TRUE. And as Venezuelan, she has the right (as I do too, and all the Venezuelans suffering this heartbreaking situation have as well) to call out to Gustavo for his indifference and lack of support to his OWN PEOPLE in such a critical day like yesterday was!!!

    Do you have any idea what was going on in the streets while he was playing…? You either don’t have a clue…. or perhaps you are part of the problem we are living in Venezuela!

    FYI, the sentiment that Gabriela expresses is the same we all feel as Venezuelans!!! Total disappointment…!

    • Andrew says:

      My point was that these two artists are in this context, private citizens. They aren’t elected officials or accountable to her to do her bidding. She could have written them private letters or even emails since she says she knows them. No, she is taking it public, implying that they are somehow culpable for the tragedies in the streets. I don’t have to be Venezuelan to see the injustice of her imposing her will on them in a public way. As another poster below pointed out, she was in fact wrong about who was conducting the concert during these events. Gergiev and Netrebko have suffered similar injustices for political events that they had nothing to do with.

      • imjustsofia says:

        Andrew, you’re not the one who has nothing to eat for dinner or breakfast, you’re not the one who has to make a line just to buy a piece of bread or toilette paper to clean your ass… You have absolutely NO RIGHT to criticise her letter, And NO she shouldn’t make it private and you know why? because the world needs to understand that we, venezuelan people are in a very difficult time and the government want to shut our mouths, to shout the news and our social media, to make people like you think “Oh there’s nothing wrong happening there, ooh look is Dudamel and the system, wow! beautiful Venezuelans must be proud of it!” and you know what? WE ARE!! but we can’t enjoy music, arts or life because our family it’s being killed!!!!! BECAUSE WE HAVE NOTHING TO EAT!!! i know people who has lost their love ones because someone wants to steal their car and the thieves instead of just stealing the car also shoots them in te face, oh and with a gun that the goverment provides them.
        So, a person like you who has probably never been in a Caracas popular zone, can’t say Dudamel has nothing to do with politics, YES HE HAS!! because while he was conducting the stupid concert a police officer killed a student (shooting him in the head, he was only 23 years old) in the same city that Dudamel was (Caracas), he say nothing about it, he never regreted to be with the goverment so i think you should understand that he’s as culpable of what’s happening (for supporting them) as Maduro is. Oh and the next time you make an oponion make sure to inform yourself a little better, don’t you think?.

  • Pedro Castillo says:

    Quiero felicitarle por su honestidad y compromiso como venezolana y como artista. Igual que Ud. admiro mucho la obra del maestro Abreu y el excelente trabajo del joven Dudamel, y su deseo de mantener y extender el sistema, pero ya no cabe seguir de rodillas por dinero o prestigio. Es necesario que como seres humanos y como líderes venezolanos de toda una juventud que se ha levantado a la sombra del sistema juvenil de orquestas, ambos se pronuncien y se definan. No se puede servir a Dios y al dinero, dijo el maestro Jesús. Parafraseandolo digo: no se puede servir al futurp de los jóvenes a costa de la sangre y el dolor de tantos pobres en Venezuela. Elq ue tenga oidos, que oiga.

  • Alicia Martinez says:

    Bravo Gabriela, como te admiro

  • Blad says:

    Bravado! I have tough the same Mrs Monte room has written here, but now this wonderful woman express it very clear and loud, the “System ” is another political strategy of this government to manipulate people trough the meaning it has for Venezuelan people, Dudamel and Abreu have a lot of pre tiger, power and tons tons and tons of money the government have gave to them while the people suffer, the haven’t got millions of dollars, while they pleased the giver men to, of course they don’t going to be against the giver men to never ever.

  • Pancho says:

    Gabriela is mistaken. Gustavo Dudamel did not conduct the concert she mentions. The military parade and performance (which you can watch at if you can endure two hours of pro-Chavez circus) included three pieces performed by the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Aragua. All three were conducted by Christian Vasquez. They are: “Venezuela” (12:27), “Mambo” (57:23) and “Alma Llanera” (1:59:32). How could she confuse Christian with her good friend Gustavo? Well, my guess is she didn’t watch the video. She just heard the rumor that he had been there and decided to write an open letter to Gustavo. Maybe she will later write a private apology to him?

    In any case, I do agree that Jose Antonio Abreu, Gustavo and others in El Sistema have missed plenty of opportunities to protest the authoritarianism of the Chavez and Maduro regimes. But then again, so have many other Venezuelans. It is a very long list that includes the 7 million people that voted for Maduro in the presidential elections, the 5 million that voted for pro Chavez mayors in the regional elections, the 2.5 million public employees across Venezuela (who according to the most extreme anti Chavez observers, should all quit their jobs if they don’t want to be complicit with what is happening in Venezuela)…

    To be honest, after seeing the parade I am much more worried about the fact that the Venezuelan military, who are supposed to be neutral, appeared shouting pro Chavez and “socialist” slogans, than about Christian conducting. And I am even more worried about the fact that private television stations didn’t broadcast the protests across Venezuela these past days. As a Venezuelan that really terrifies me. So yes, nowadays there is a lot of blame to go around in Venezuela. Abreu, Gustavo, Vasquez et al just aren’t at the top of my list.

    • imjustsofia says:

      Oh my! i can’t even read your comment you don’t know what you’re saying! People didn’t vote for Maduro he’s an ilegal president, haven’t you heard about it? do you even know what’s happening here????

  • In history there are many cases of artists standing up against injustice. Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles did it, for example. It is very brave to leave the comfort of neutrality or the support from the group in power and assume a political position but it is true, justice and freedom are first and artists should stand at their side.

  • Ricardo Nebreda says:

    Sra. Montero… mil gracias por sus palabras, mil gracias por esta carta que estoy seguro que el maestro Dudamel la leerá al igual que el maestro Abreu… ojalá meditan bien sobre sus actos y recapaciten…

    Si bien es cierto que la música es algo bueno que no se debe mezclar con esto o aquello por que haría mucho daño… pero más cierto es que el callar, la omisión es más perjudicial para un pueblo que está sufriendo……

    Mil gracias y deseo asistir a un concierto suyo pronto… pero será aquí en Venezuela ya que ir al exterior ahorita, me es imposible.


  • marisol says:

    the fact is that he shouldn’t be there while the famous Tupamaros were killing our kids…our brothers…our people . maduro was having his show like nothing was happening ….pathetic !!!!

  • JORGE says:

    we must respect all of us, and pray for Venezuela, if we need something is give a better example for our similar!!

  • Gerry Cords says:

    Honestly I feel a lot of apreciation about this letter… Same thing happen in Cuba, the leaders wake up quik for those on real needs… The people of Venezuela!!!… Real leaders are over the truth all the time and this organization well called Sistema is hanging around huge curtain of propaganda behind one goverment seking attention and aproval for the nation and is inminent keep safe their pride behind few musical instruments using incredible leaders like Abreu and Dudamel and later they will be see it like history… Sooner then later those well recognize worlwide goverment leaders need to move to the right side, truth side or will died inside their cardboard cradle… Sistema and Dudamel eventually will be nothing in Venezuela and Abreu legacy wiped out… I whish Dudamel could save his legacy on time!!!!

  • Juan says:

    Querida Gabriela: te admiraba como pianista, y ahora te admiro mucho más como Mujer Venezolana Valiente y espero que la situación en Venezuela cambie pronto. Estamos contigo y con todo nuestros hermanos Venezolanos.

  • Gabriela Montero says:

    There are too many many messages to answer, but here are brief responses to everyone questioning the veracity of what I wrote, which by the way, was not really the letter but my voicing of my intentions of writing a letter in the next few days. In am currently performing and I need to sit down and calmly gather my thoughts and write that letter. Nevertheless:


    Yesterday, Gustavo conducted a concert celebrating the 39 years of El Sistema near the site where the first student was assassinated. I know this first hand from a friend who was there.

    Christian conducted the performance during Maduro’s military show..

    G Ell:

    And because the world is ridden by violence, does that mean that we should condone it, accept it and just live with it? Venezuela has never been in the dire situation it is in at the moment. If 25.000 murders in a year doesn’t alarm you, then I have no idea what would.


    Whatever “comforts” I have deservedly arrived at in my life (and they are by no means luxurious) I have achieved through sacrifice, hard work, honesty and talent. No bribes, no deals with corrupt governments, no hand me downs. And as far as “what have you done for your country?” well, let’s just say that I am at peace with my role as a Venezuelan, because I do my utmost to always represent in the best possible way, the wonderful people and talent of my country. Everyone knows me as the Venezuelan pianist and composer, and I am immensely proud of that. And since when is it a crime to develop your talents, to evolve, to succeed and in the process maybe inspire a few people? Totally bogus arguments you have come up with.


    You really think I am interested in this so that I draw attention to myself? Really? You mean by exposing myself to the wrath of the government and possiblpeople within El Sistema, most certainly having my email, Facebook and website possibly hacked yet again, and assuring that I will never play again in my country or outside of it with the orchestras that I so loved playing with? Wow. I must be a masochist and I didn’t know it. And do you mean the incredible benefits I have received from being insulted by Chavistas and by spending over $35.000 of my own savings to write my piano and orchestra piece,” ExPatria” written with the sole purpose of portraying the disastrous situation of my country and therefore, bringing empathy to our crisis?My life has become increasingly more stressful, painful and complicated since I took the decision to speak on behalf of so many that can’t. So perhaps you can leave your cynicism aside and think for a moment that I am doing this out of concern and benefit of the people I represent. I presume you have read all of the above comments and have gained some insight into what Venezuela has become.

    David Boxwell:

    I have never said that Venezuela was an utopian society before 1999. But Cuba is hardly a good role model, where the average monthly income is $18 a month and people are forced to prostitute themselves in order to have a slightly less miserable life. This current regime is not the change Venezuela wanted and it is DEFINITELY not what it wants now.


    What a weak accusation!! And how was I supposed to know what was happening in Brazil? Am I in the orchestra management business? Do you know how many orchestras I play with every year?

    And to those Venezuelans who feel supported, embraced and understood by my words and actions, it gives me great joy and comfort to know that I am helping in some way to pave a change to our tragedy. I admire the brave men and women who are fighting in every way to recover the little dignity that we have left as a society and I applaud you.

    And to those who think El Sistema would not survive without the Chavistas, I think you might be wrong. I am pretty certain that there is enough international interest and aid to help them through a transition without funding from this corrupt government. But I can assure you, that without a country, there will be nothing. Including El Sistema.

    • David says:

      Gabriela: to your response of

      “Whatever “comforts” I have deservedly arrived at in my life (and they are by no means luxurious) I have achieved through sacrifice, hard work, honesty and talent. No bribes, no deals with corrupt governments, no hand me downs. And as far as “what have you done for your country?” well, let’s just say that I am at peace with my role as a Venezuelan, because I do my utmost to always represent in the best possible way, the wonderful people and talent of my country. Everyone knows me as the Venezuelan pianist and composer, and I am immensely proud of that. And since when is it a crime to develop your talents, to evolve, to succeed and in the process maybe inspire a few people? Totally bogus arguments you have come up with.”

      You have certainly not worked any harder for your “deserved” lifestyle than the people who actually live in Venezuela. Do you think you work any harder than Dr. Abreu or the thousands of teachers who toil under such horrible day-to-day conditions while you travel the world playing piano? I don’t mean to imply that you are living a life of the rich and famous, but compared to the people of VZ I don’t think you have much to complain about.

      And if you feel you have worked so hard to get what you deserve then what do the people of VZ (El Sistema) deserve? Is it that you feel your success is bc you are more honest or talented? Surely you do not feel that you have sacrificed more than the people who have devoted their lives to their country and its people. When people think of the good that is happening in VZ a midst all the atrocities, they don’t think of Gabriela Montero the former Venezuelan pianist; they think of Dr. Abreu and the hundreds of thousands of lives he’s touched for the better.

      Of course it is no crime to develop your talents and to succeed. We should wish that for everyone. You miss my point completely. I’m happy that you feel that playing the piano has inspired a few people, but what is that in comparison to the achievements of Dr. Abreu and ES? The point is your success does NOTHING to help people who actually live in VZ. The people of ES have devoted their lives to the success of a system that actual DOES improve the quality of life for people living there whereas your success improves only YOUR quality of life. You have made no sacrifice for the country of Venezuela; all you have done is capitalize on it–using it as an opportunity to bring attention to yourself. The people of ES are the actual Venezuelans sacrificing their lives. Who are you to judge them?

      I’m also not saying that you should not speak out against the government of VZ. The world should be speaking out against them. But life INSIDE of VZ and the politics that have enabled El Sistema to create the miracle that it has is due to the genius and humanity of Dr. Abreu. To criticize this saint of a man reveals your immaturity and lack of awareness.

      Please continue to speak out, but in your future letter I hope that you do not discredit yourself by ill-advised emotional comments (like me) attacking the brightest light still shining in VZ. We should be supporting the good and speaking out against the bad.

      • Wanderer says:

        I hope this reasonable, informed and well worded statement gets the attention it deserves.

      • David: I don’t know if you speak Spanish but let me tell you that in VE we have this saying “Estás meando fuera del perol” which literally translates as “You are pissing out of the can”. It is used to refer to somebody who during a discussion is entirely missing the point. You come up with a global bizarre index to grade “Efforts Completed” by which the efforts of a tuna fisherman, a baseball player, an astronaut, a leading politician, a newspaper stand owner, a restaurant waiter, a top mob hitman, etc., etc., can be compared and their position in society can “justly” be determined. Your argument is so absolutely childish, irrelevant, and plain stupid that it merits no more consideration. On the other hand you speak of Maestro Abreu as a second Christ!! By all means he has great merit but at the same time has, as do all famous leaders of all sorts and fields, including artists and intelectuals, the obligation to speak up against any agression to human rights and democracy, very specially when they occur in your country of birth. Martin Luther King very wisely said: “There comes a moment when silence is treason”. You might want to do some research on the intellectuals that in nazi Germany remained silent or collaborated with that “mother of nightmares”. Or those in France that behind the scenes collaborated in the occupation of their country (collaborationists). History has not pardoned their treason. The point you are missing is so clear in Gabriela’s letter that I can not but conclude that you are full of some kind of hatred or fanatism that blinds you before a reality that can not possibly be concealed. Quote “the brightest light still shining in VZ”… FGS, common man, get serious!

        • David says:

          Elpidio, I think it is you who is “pissing out of the can” or missing the point. Firstly, I do not speak of Maestro Abreu as the second Christ; I am not even a Christian. I speak of him as a saint because he has sacrificed and dedicated his life to the people of VZ (saintly behavior would you not agree?). Your comparing Abreu’s situation to that of MLK or Nazis is ludicrous and shows your complete ignorance of history. So now you are accusing Abreu of treason?! Treason should be reserved for people like Ms Montero who have deserted their country yet feel they have the right to speak against people who have actually stayed and made a difference.

          You say that I am blind to reality. The reality is that Abreu has spent the past 40 years of his life making the lives of hundreds of thousands of VZs better. Is this not reality? Would you disagree? This is why I say that he is “one of the brightest lights still shining in VZ.” I’m not sure if English is your first language Elpidio, but that is what we call a metaphor. It compares the ACTIONS of Abreu to a bright light because he has brought hope and light into an otherwise dark country.

          Ms. Montero speaks from a great distance like a coward. She has done nothing for the people of VZ. Where Gabriela gives words, Abreu gives his life through action.

          Please enlighten me to reality. Show me where the current evil regime of VZ, or the one before, has ever shown any regard to letters written from pianists living in NYC or anyone else’s words for that matter. This is one of the things that makes them evil. Do you actually think that because Abreu has never publicly spoke out against them that he agrees with what is being done by the government? Do you think he agreed with Chavez or the people before him? Of course not. Don’t be foolish.

          It is easy for Gabriela to speak out because she has nothing to lose–NOTHING! Her words carry as much weight as anyone else off the street.There were many people like MLK who spoke out against injustice as they should, but they were not relying on funding from the government to help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Abreu is not a fool. The government is not going to change by a few words being spoken. He knows this. He has negotiated corrupt governments for 40 years in order to create a miracle in that country and make people’s lives better. What would you rather have–words or actions? Would you trade 40 years of El Sistema for a public denouncement of the government. I can tell you that the people whose lives have been changed would not agree with you.

          And how can you disagree that Abreu is not one of the bright lights of that country? The people who awarded him the TED Prize would disagree. People who are considering his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize would also disagree. And so would the thousands upon thousands of people around the world that he has inspired to make a difference in their own countries. Since you seem to think that comparing Abreu to a bright light is a ridiculous comment, maybe you can name some other VZs who have brought so much good to this country that labors under such darkness. You speak as if you live in VZ, so maybe there is something that I am missing. Are you seriously comparing a statement on FB by Gabriela to the lifetime of service and achievement of Dr. Abreu??!! What world do you live in?

          Or maybe you would rather Abreu take your advice and jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people who are actually DOING good things in that country just so he could state the obvious like you and Ms. Montero? Please! I think it is you that needs to take a good look at reality and get serious.

          • Ms Montero has taken considerable personal risks in making the statement. Respect that.

          • David says:

            Norman, with all due respect, Ms. Montero has taken no personal risk by speaking out against the Venezuelan government. I would agree that the inadvertent risk she has now taken has been to display her hubris to the world in calling out Dr. Abreu and Dudamel. How can anyone seriously respect someone who sits by in a different country, having done nothing to help the Venezuelan people herself, with no knowledge of the political intricacies of the Venezuelan government and choose to throw stones at the leaders of El Sistema (the people who actually ARE taking risks and making personal sacrifices)? The only people at risk are the people IN Venezuela–not Ms. Montero.

            However, if she really feels this strongly (I mean she did sacrifice 15 minutes of her life to post a personal statement on Facebook), I’m sure the people of Venezuela would be more than appreciative if she were to book a flight to Caracas and talk to Maduro herself. I hear that nationalists are all open ears when it comes to entertaining the deep and heartfelt thoughts of ex-patriot musicians who left the country when they were eight years old and have since dedicated their lives to doing nothing for their country. And if all goes according to plan (fingers crossed–all you need to do is speak up, right?…how hard can it be?), then she can feel good that she actually made a difference in the world instead of hurdling insults from thousands of miles away at the people who not only nurtured her career, but stayed behind to help their country.

          • She has taken great risks: she cannot return to her country. You, sir, have not even taken the risk of publishing your name. Which of you, then, are we to respect?

          • Reading your reply confirms what I said: you are simply a person full of hatred I might remind you of the meaning behind the word “leader”: someone that on the basis of personal traits, specially emotional, can direct, inspire, convince members of a group to do or NOT TO DO or act in a certain way. Maestro Abreu is a leader in his field, of global stature. He thus should not allow any doubt whatsoever about his humanitarian and political (in the broad sense of the word) position, because a leader is followed, believed, sometimes worshipped, and therefore he has the moral obligation to make it clear where he stands. I didn’t say that Abreu is a traitor, I simply quoted well known words by Dr. MLK. We say “El que se pica es porque ají come” which literally translated goes something like “if you stung your mouth it’s because you bit a hot chile”… I do live in Caracas, David, and by God you really, really ARE missing a hell of a lot of what’s going on here. So I would advise you to be more cautious and moderate in your opinions and statements. Try checking the INSTRUCTIONS that the USA embassy in Caracas issued to its staff and Americans living here as to how, when and where to move around the city. It would give you an idea of why, in part, the demonstrations against the government. And, yes, please apologize to Mrs. Montero. You’ve been most unrespectful, agressive and ungentlemanly against her, with no motive.

          • Ricardo says:

            DAVID: Wow! heres a man making a letter on a “comment chat” of a web page arguing exhaustively trying to make his point of view very clear explaining about the ephimerous effect and naivety of writing letters to people and trying to make their point of view very clear. Well thats just sane! … I can see already his answer to me : Ricardo your missing the point du du du , da da da… hahaha At least Mrs Montero knew her letter´s counterpart you are just a complete stranger so i´ll do the same.

            First to my surprise the artist referred in this article (in her well deserved wright) answers to various comments, but then for my astonishment you immediately charge and say she´s the traitor, coward, naive and she sacrifices nothing .For all I know first she´s a lady and judging by her famous letter more polite than you, so how could you write anything that offensive to her just to try to make a point?.

            Regarding “the sacrifice” that in your opinion she hasn’t taken it reminds me of an artist that for speaking out her difference with her country’s regime, in this case Cuban I might ad (Venezuela´s true source of the regime´s politics), never stepped in her homeland again. Her name was Celia Cruz . Yeah… maybe thats not a sacrifice for you, On the other hand if she wanted to capitalized this situation, business man, she’s losing presentations, sales, and the contact of musicians and organizations that want to keep their distance from “scandals” and actually getting a lot of bad publicity from all the regimes powerful media. For that I Know she has true courage.

            What I know as a Venezuelan is this. Abreu is a strong hearted teacher , there are few quite like him in his field , but there are hundreds of strong hearted teachers that give their entirely lives for the youth and don´t have the support nor recognition of the multimillionaire regime because my friend their students cannot present their work in classy halls and free public park concerts around the world for the most effective propaganda… and You are living proof of this.

            But my real point David : who will Mr Abreu teach??? if the youth and I include with a devastated heart also my relatives are being killed and persecuted. In a small country that last year had 25.000 known kills, could be more. please check if that is a high number. I´m sure the students inside this never the less wonderful system have one or two relatives killed because of the anarchy of the judicial system. Can a dead person be taught to play an instrument? Can a hungry person play better? Does being talented but politically speechless gives you more dignity more meaning in life?

            So , since you don´t have the international recognition mrs Montero has worked for your letters are pointless. Well you can try putting a duck tape in her mouth maybe that’ll work for you. Go Write a book or something.

          • Jaime says:


            I assume you’re from the US. Imagine the following scenario: a protest erupts in Washington and 3 people are shot to death in the street by the police and government militias, hundreds are wounded, and 100 students are put in prison. None of this is televised. Three days later, some of the prisoners resurface in court, claiming to have been tortured.

            If the greatest cultural icon in the country did not to say a word about this, you really wouldn’t see anything wrong about it? Public figures have a responsibility to make governments they represent and from whom they receive funding accountable for this kind of violence. The comparison to Nazi collaborationists may be bogus, but condoning actions like these is nothing if not morally corrupt.

            You claim Gabriela is a coward for making statements from abroad while she has nothing to lose (and I think she clearly has). Don’t you feel a bit like a coward for calling her out on this when you clearly haven’t lived through anything like what is happening in Venezuela? Perhaps you ought to spend a year there before you blame her for wanting to live elsewhere.

            I really do hope you never have to leave your country for reasons out of your control. If you ever do, you will see this in a different light.

          • Talluah Zerkowui says:

            Abreu is great – that is a given. However – to say he is a Saint? Totally Disagree. 99% of those with the title “St.” before their names took a beating to get it. Normally they were burned – beheaded – you name it. Chances are they received that lot in life because they spoke up a little TOO loud – one TOO many times. That’s a Saint. They don’t give a #@^! about this world. Abreu has done great earthly things – but in the end – sometimes you are put in positions to do things – like sacrifice it all to let the world know this is unacceptable.

  • leiff sven says:

    la realidad de mi país es una realidad singular, algo que se debe mirar de un punto de vista sincero,, en sus países de origen imaginen que un grupo de estudiantes entre a la fuerza la casa de un gobernador de estado, a quemar y tumbar lo que se les pone en el camino que le pasaría a esas personas en sus países, acá esos jóvenes están presos, pero lo normal es que los llamen presos políticos. díganme en que situación estarían estos jóvenes en sus respectivos


    • Dory says:

      Cubanos estuvieran muertos como a pasado tantas veces. Quisiera saber cuando hablan de los Cubanos con el asunto politico, se refieren a las personas Cubanas o a los hermanos Castros?

  • leiff sven says:

    la realidad es también que dudamel y abreu no se pronuncian ni han perdido oportunidades pues quizás tengan otra visión distinta de la que ustedes desean que tengan

  • Reggie Benstein says:

    Hmmm… I understand the basis of Ms Montero’s outrage but let’s consider the artists (usually big-name actors) who speak out against the American government. When the citizens of the country here that, they say: shut up and do what you are supposed to do.

    And we are talking about a “free’ country.

    Of course, Ms Montero (like Gloria Estefan before her) is willing to speak out: she’s in a foreign country talking about a ‘foreign’ country.

  • Claudia says:

    Extraordinary letter, very bravely said!


    Congratulations Gabriela! You have been honest and clear in a very direct way. I support you in every aspect of your letter, especially your simil with the Titanic. In Venezuela we need venezuelan artists of your trajectory that have the courage to says the truth about a political situation that keeps most of our people silent. This is a government whose aim is to pauperize our population and destroy Venezuela.

  • Christian Roebling says:

    What the protesters should do is to wear all white when the march. Let the world see the blood. Make no mistake who the evil ones are. They should be ready to videotape all of the armed motorcyclists that shot and intimidate the peaceful protesters. Get rid of the Cubans and their influence in Venezuela from the country once and for all. And don’t stop. Don’t retreat. And don’t ever give up. History is littered with egotistical tyrants whose ideology can’t stand up to the truth and the will of the people. Viva Venezuela!

  • Ivan Ferreira says:

    Very well said Gabriela… Brava!

  • Talluah Zerkowui says:

    Well said Gabriela. This has always puzzled me. I am not a public person so I have no experience in being in a situation where I would need to use my celebrity to help my countrymen. I would like to think that my career would not be worth more to me my fellow man. I would like to think that when I had the stage that I would use my celebrity to shine the light on the horrors that are going on. But that takes strength. It is easy to say here in a comments section – but how many of us would be able to pull it off. Especially when you live in a country where the dignity of human life is snuffed out and replaced with – socialism – it seems to be very utilitarian. Gustavo wisely used his talents to get out; at the same time he helped create something beautiful – but in the end – El Sistema is just a political pawn – and he appears to go right along with it. There is no right way to do a wrong thing. It puzzles me that when the entire classical world is watching your country that Venezuela’s rock star smiles and shares the stage with these- rapists and thieves. I am no rock star but I have kids and I have to go outside of who I am and unselfishly provide and develop a moral compass for them. There is a point where we have to be selfless. I hope he finally looks at himself in the mirror and says – what will I tell my children about how I used my fame – when the world was watching – what did I do for my countrymen – what did I do for humanity? Looks like he is busy branding Dudamel. But I am sure that won’t be the story he tells.

    • Wanderer says:

      El Sistema is just a political pawn? Far from it. El Sistema was conceived and developed regardless of the current political climate in Venezuela.

      • Talluah Zerkowui says:

        And the current political climate can make them go away. BUT so long as everyone plays nice nice – they can bang the drum and toot the horns. Are you that naive?

  • Julio Chalbaud says:

    North korea at North of South America

  • Enforcer says:

    Can’t wait for the Chavez Opera!

  • Kael says:

    Gabriela, a veces pelear no es medido con cuantos golpes, insultos o enfrentamientos tengas. Abreu y Dudamel pelean cada día por sus ideales, por el amor, por la música y por la juventud.

    Espero que entiendas que la posición de ellos no es la misma que la tuya, así que por favor déjalos en paz, que hasta el sol de hoy ellos son lo único que no se ha infectado en Venezuela.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Good one from Montero, especially after having been treated to such hypocrisy in the western media by cultural arbiters when the Dude played pallbearer for the great dictator…

  • Lorelei says:

    Gabriela, muchos artistas cuando llegan a la fama se olvidan de que el arte se basa en una expresión honesta del ser. No hay muchos como tu que tienen las agallas de no querer corromperse especialmente cuando a largo plazo el precio es muy alto. Felicitaciones por tu honestidad y valentía. Y es bonito saber que puedes llevar la bandera tricolor con orgullo. Tienes el apoyo de millones de Venezolanos que aman a la verdadera patria.

  • Wanderer says:

    Also in this thread, much like in the Putin thread: A lot of opinion, very little knowledge. And childish “good guys” (that’s of course us) and “bad guys” metaphors.

    It’s a complex picture in Venezuela that evades simplistic categorizations. About 80 % of the population were doing worse for instance before the Chavez regime rose to power. It’s difficult to get a differentiated picture, since anybody trying to seek it will get shot midfield between the opposing war protagonists. But I hope, more reasonable considerations could be voiced in this blog of supposedly better educated readers.

    Anybody trying to analyze the situation in Venezuela should start at least with the status quo that existed before the Chavez years and put things in perspective.

    • Elton says:

      Just for the record. I was part of the poor population before Chavez. And the only ones who do better now are the does who never worked and/or where tied to the criminal world. Get your data right before forming and publishing an opinion.

      • Jose R. says:

        According to statistical data of the World Bank, about 80% of Venezuelans are better off today after 14 years of Chavez’ regime than before. And according to you, those 80% of the Venezuelan people either never worked ore are tied to the criminal world. Hmmm, I wonder who is right.

        • Nelson Armitano says:

          Hugo Chávez’ presidency was a disaster for the Venezuelan people. Chávez’ “Socialism of the 21st Century” changed Venezuela from one of the most prosperous and politically free countries in Latin America to one of the least competitive and most repressive countries worldwide.

          Under Chávez’ rule, oil-rich Venezuela became one of the least economically competitive countries in the world. In 2012, the country ranked 126 of 144 in a study by the World Economic Forum. According to the report, Venezuela now has some of the lowest scores worldwide in functioning of public institutions, trust in the justice system and domestic competition. It has some of the highest scores in terms of regulation, trade tariffs, and rules that deter foreign investment. The country has an inflation rate of more than 50 percent, and has also suffered several food shortages this year.

          Venezuela has the fourth highest murder rate in the world and is now the most violent South American country. Between the time Chávez took power in 1998 and 2012, kidnappings have risen from a few hundred annually to a record of 25,000 in 2013. Homicide rates have nearly tripled and suspect arrests have fallen by 61 percent. Only eight in every 100 murder investigations lead to an arrest. Violence is much worse for Venezuela’s inmates despite Chávez’ campaign promises of prison reform.

          Venezuelans have also witnessed alarming revocations of political liberties during Chávez’ presidency. On September 10th, Chávez decided to withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He regularly targets media who expose his failures. In addition, he demanded the names of voters who participated in the opposition’s primary election just as he did to those who unsuccessfully voted to remove him from office in 2004. Chávez has banned foreign funding for civil society watch dogs, which will make electoral transparency in upcoming elections difficult.

          While Chávez may still be a popular figure amongst many Venezuelans and even some Westerners, his policies speak for themselves. His revolution has made his country less prosperous, more dangerous, and much more repressive. Venezuelans who care about liberty and human rights hope to see this regime disappear for good.

          • Talluah Zerkowui says:

            I love how anyone with a different opinion then Wanderer is uneducated. Wow Wanderer – I hope you take over Venezuela next. You must have it ALL figured out! Let’s get you a country!

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Panait Istrati, after a visit to Moscow in the 20s : “All right, I can see the broken eggs. Where’s this omelette of yours?”

  • The opposition with the help of private media, are planing a coup d eta agaist venezuela sosialist goverment. Same plan they use in Libia and Siria. This acts are designed in wasington. Please dont write sily letters to gustavo dudamel. You should. Be smart than that sister. Or you are on the pay roll of the oppositinon. I hate people like you. You suporting the killers goverment of USA.

  • I was not there, I do not know what is true of the reports or not. But I know one thing: artists have the duty to fight FOR the people, FOR social justice. There are different ways and Gabriela shows us one of them! Thanks for that! When people justice die,the art is going to die!

  • Wanderer says:

    Dear Gabriela Montero,

    those of us who do not live in Venezuela and do not know the country from current first hand living experience, or were also not at least born there and know it from the childhood, like you – we are confused when we try to educate ourselves about your home country and study factual data about it, like this one

    which gives us a differentiated yet bottom line positive development of the country as a whole under the Chavez regime, particularly after the devastating oil strike which was apparently instigated by his enemies.

    How do you explain all this? Could it be that you were born into the small group of well to do people in Venezuela back then, which is the group that lost status and property, while the living conditions for the overwhelming majority of the people improved? (the murder rate paradoxon aside)

    Just look at the income inequality graph in the above link, which shows a very low value of income equality for Venezuela compared to its immediate neighbors. Naturally, decreasing income inequality means that those previously on the top lose, and those on the bottom gain. It’s the nature of decreasing income inequality.

    Do you think your perspective is one of the whole country, or more one of a certain fraction of the former Venezuelan society? I’m honestly curious.

    • Wanderer says:

      should read: …low value of income INequality… of course.

      • Ricardo says:

        Hi Wanderer, great nick name by the way.

        The sources of that web page are all Chavez funded and/or controlled by Venezuela´s government to show what ever they need.

        First of all you have to understand that in Venezuela there are no independent institutions. If the president gives an order to the assembly , even publicly , the assembly , lead by the late chavez right arm and accomplice in the violent coup of 1992 Diosdado Cabello, the assembly executes. Thats why the constitution´s amendments like the “indefinite re-election of a president” (WHICH IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC) were passed in to election. So that being said if the president needs statistic to show growth it´s way simpler that amending the constitution.

        SISOV- Chavistas

        Banco Central de Venezuela- Chavista… come on ! they don´t have to answer to no one.

        Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean . Well they seem to be more independent . Their next summit : La HAVANA. Yeah you remember they have the same regime that received Russia’s nuclear warheads.

        Ministry of the popular power for the higher education… Come on!

        you wrote: the living conditions for the overwhelming majority of the people improved? (the murder rate paradoxon aside) I´m Venezuelan I could write pages about how crime has me in “home arrest” and how many people i know have been killed . but you wont get the sensation that i have when my wife goes out and doesn’t answers my first call, Its a pain down the stomach and with it the stress because sometimes shes with our son. . I can´t find toilet paper, flour, cooking oil, WTF, I have a 3 year old , If it´s not that then it´s eggs or sometimes meat. Try buying a car sometimes a smartphone , There are none or you have to wait 3 months.

        How can crime and kidnapping rise with such good economic charts ??? its incoherent right?? one of us is lying my friend … You believe in the charts, come to venezuela and be careful you don´t get killed like Monica spears for robbery , one of thousands , in a 2002 corolla . Venezuelan Bolivar it devaluation every day you can get arrested for saying how much a dollar costs in the black market .

        Yes the chavez government gave money to the poor he also armed them to create their militia, Search for : tupamaros , colectivo la piedrita, los orejones . What is a pran? and search for the night club inside a prison called “tokio”. All of these made in Chavez-Cuban regimes.

        I remember of all the thing Chavez said in one of his weekly programs when he bought a bunch of rifles from the Russians . he was on national television and said : “Imagine a Marine showing up in our shores” ( to invade us for our oil he meant) and did the gesture of taking a rifle and shooting . he hated North americans or what is kind of the same the government that represented their people. Like North Koreans , Like Cubans.


        • Gonout Backson says:

          How dare you ruining the Progressive Humanity’s dream of a perfect, progressive future with your trivial facts? What do they mean compared to the Sunny Tomorrow? Don’t you know they have already lost half of Europe and Soviet Union (at least for a time…), China is extremely iffy, and there’s really not much left. Shame on you, such an egoist…. 🙂

    • Miguel says:

      I have no arguments against your information. What I have is REALITY, not statistics.

      All that kind of – statistical and historical – information is very useful for a country to work towards solving its social problems, like those you describe, but that can only happen when the government works FOR THE PEOPLE, or at least, not against people. Right now, Venezuela’s government is KILLING its people! ¿Do you understand? KILLING PEOPLE!

      ¿How, in God’s name, can we think of social problems when this is happening in our homes, when we can’t take a walk feeling and being secure, when we may not have food tomorrow? I can’t evaluate right now the social or economic advances of Chavez or Maduro, because what they are doing today is outrageous.

      Our actual situation makes it impossible to live and think of our social problems, so we have to remove the “Chavez’s royal-like court”.

      It doesn’t matter if I belong to the bourgeoisie or to the poorest people in my country, everyone’s perspective is exactly the same: we are being dragged into a totalitarian system; but as we can see, if that is Cuba’s and Maduro’s intention, it will cost a lot of innocent people’s blood.

      The first step is to make it possible to live. Then we can figure out how to eliminate poverty, improve education, production, or whatever you may think is important.

      • Wanderer says:

        Miguel, if your current government will be overthrown, then the oil industry will be privatized again and the profits from it will leave the country and will not be available for the people of Venezuela. Those international entities who are hungry for Venezuela’s oil are powerful and will go a long way to get the priced asset back.

        You point out the problems in the country, but has it ever been better? As far as we from the outside can tell, it was actually even worse, regarding levels of poverty and economic despair, before Chavez rose to power.

        I have no answer, your options might be to chose between the lesser of two evils only, but never forget that those who promise you “freedom” and “a better life” are those who are after your oil, not after your well being. South America is a huge graveyard of false promises in the spirit of colonization and corporate looting.

        And please leave Mr. Abreu and Dudamel out of this. They are responsible men and will do the right thing according to their own convictions to their best ability.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      The statistics in the article you cite are accurate insofar as they go, but if you look at data provided by the Economic Commission for Latin America (http:// and look at the same measures for Latin America as a whole or by individual countries, you can see that in comparison Venezuela’s performance is not uncommon and fairly middle-of-the-road.

      As to income inequality, Venezuela’s GINI coefficient is indeed lower than that of the US. As are those of Egypt and Bangladesh ( So now we know that income equality correlates with prosperity and civic peace.

      Look at it this way: well-functioning countries don’t have shortages of toilet paper and milk. They don’t have stern warnings on state-run media about hoarding. They don’t have stringent currency controls to prevent capital flight. They don’t have engineers from an absolutely vital industry emigrating to Calgary. They have all those things though if they follow “progressive” guidelines.

      My sympathy for the people of Venezuela is limited, however, by the fact that the bien pensants as well as former President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate James E. Carter have told me that elections in that country were free and fair. So Venezuelans are getting the government they asked for… good and hard.

  • Peter says:

    Now if this was serious journalism someone would have called Abreu and Dudamel for a comment… has that been done?

  • Cindy says:

    I believe she is just jealous. Was he suppose to cancel a concert because of the politics in Venezuela. I don’t know if Dudamel is Chavista or not but unfortunately the world does not stop because of whatever is happening in Venezuela. How about a letter to Capriles? Where was he? Why so much silence? Weather we like it or not we can’t expect Dudamel to compromise his time and commitments with every public demonstration. Was he suppose to know what the outcome was? Do you not think he was concerned about his family, friends and country? That letter is the reason why Venezuela is where it is right now. Blame somebody else, blame Copey, blame AD blame Chavez, nobody assumes personal responsibility, we just point fingers even during this horrible time for all Venezuelans.

  • Cindy says:

    Have you heard of Egypt, Afganistan, Iran, Syria ?? Do you think this does not happen there? Change comes from within. Nobody except for the ones in the country should get involved. Get over it. Stop whining and fight for you Venezuela.

  • Tiago says:

    Ms. Gabriela’s speech is really shallow. She doesn’t have any idea of the real history of this world we live in, behind all the bullshit the media of the U.S. throws into her poor little had.

  • For the record, I’m an American outsider. My knowledge of what’s going on in Venezuela is limited. But having said that, I very much resent Ms Montero’s analogy of comparing this situation with the string quartet players who perished on the Titanic, saying that “the music didn’t help.”. These four gentlemen knew that they were doomed on that sinking ship and they bravely played their music in the face of death. It was as if they were shaking their fists at fate, showing that the music plays on despite the inevitable. These were brave men, pure and simple. And they deserve a lot more respect from Ms Montero than what she stated in her letter. I’m not sure how I feel about Maestro Dudamel’s response to her letter. But I give music and art a hell of a lot more credit in society then she does.

  • Somebody says:

    “No more excuses. No more “Artists are above and beyond everything”.” Really, did she have anything to say about this…/2002_Venezuelan_coup_d%27%C3… ?

    I guess when you overthrow a democratically elected government, its ok. As long as it is a left governent…

  • Somebody says:

    “No more excuses. No more “Artists are above and beyond everything”.” Really, did she have anything to say about this ?

    I guess when you overthrow a democratically elected government, its ok. As long as it is a left governent…

  • Alejandra V. says:

    Brilliant letter Gabriela! You speak up for all of us, and for all of them. There is always the brave and the weak. You are the brave… Let’s leave the weakness for all those artists who tjink they don’t have a role in changing realities or becoming an example: they won’t have a role then and they will not be an example to anybody anymore. I personally have lost all my respect for these two musicians and I am sure many people will be in my situation.

    Thank you Gabriela for being honest, coherent and brave in adittion to being a great artist.

  • Respuesta para la Srta. Gabriela Montero. El pensamiento crítico es importante pero no es suficiente. Voy a llevar tu crítica destructiva a una realidad más positiva y más pacífica. Tu dices: ¨Venezuela is sinking and El Sistema will sink with it.¨ Yo te digo: ¨ Ni Venezuela se va a hundir, ni el Sistema se hundirá con ellos, por una simple razón, muy pronto vendrá un cambio de Capitanes hacia una nueva dirección. Ambos valen la pena ser salvados.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    “I don’t know if Dudamel is Chavista or not…”

    Watch Chavez funeral and you’ll get your answer.

  • Yeah, ok yesss, Gabriela Montero,, ehh what Can I say?? ahhh you started to talk against the venezuelan goverment when your friends where in jail, yes the bank guys who stolen all the money of their clients!!! Yes Gabriela, why don’t you say something about Chavez when he gave the money back to the clients of your “Bank Friends”.

    • I have known Gabriela a long time and know nothing of any supposed ‘bank friends’. I do, however, know of several people close to her – no connection to any banks – who have been threatened with violence by the regime. NL

  • Gabriela Montero says:

    Thank you Norman.

    And in response to Alfredo: Since when has it been a crime to be a banker? I didn’t know that it was officially a criminal profession. But do you know what IS criminal? To throw human beings in prison for two and half years without a trial! And this is exactly what Chavez did with this man whom you are referring to. He did not try to escape when they came to fetch him at his family home, because he had nothing to hide, unfortunately expecting to be released within a couple of days. And let me tell you that these prisons, are not like the “civilized” prisons one might expect from a civilized society. These prisons are controlled by ARMED gangs, where there are prostitutes, drugs, and total lawlessness. People are beheaded, maimed, burned, killed, and left to unleash their most barbaric acts without supervision, to the point that the “prison guards” remain OUTSIDE the prison quarters. When you have a moment, watch Ross Kemp’s episode on Venezuela in his documentary series,” Extreme World” which investigates the most dangerous places on earth. This man is a decent man, and my naming him and his associates in my documentary of “ExPatria” served the purpose of using their well know case to represent ALL of the INNOCENT men and women whom have been unjustly imprisoned, thrown in a hole, left to survive that hell in a country where legal powers have been usurped by a totalitarian regime.

    Fortunately, this man was released and survived those two and half years of darkness. He has yet to be charged of any crimes.

    • Felipe says:


      lunes 17 de febrero de 2014 12:00 AM

      Hoy quiero referirme específicamente a las críticas a José Antonio Abreu y a Gustavo Dudamel, porque cuando se sacan las cosas de contexto se incurre en injusticias.

      Gustavo no estaba, como se ha dicho, “dirigiendo un concierto mientras se masacraba a la gente”. Gustavo estaba dirigiendo un concierto. Punto. Se está celebrando -con muchas razones para celebrar- los 39 años de El Sistema del que han salido tantos músicos excepcionales. Resulta que ahora los culpables de los asesinatos de estos días son José Antonio Abreu y Gustavo Dudamel “porque no se pronuncian”… ¿Es que nos volvimos locos?

      Con el gigantesco enemigo que tenemos enfrente, ese gobierno con todos los peores adjetivos que se le puedan endilgar, porque se los merece, los culpables no son Maduro, Cabello y la cuerda de ñángaras que conforman los poderes públicos, sino quienes han trabajado arduamente por construir la Venezuela de excelencia, la Venezuela distinta.

      Yo creo que si Abreu y Dudamel son chavistas tienen todo el derecho a serlo. Yo no quiero una Venezuela donde todos piensen igual, como quería Hugo Chávez y quieren éstos. Quiero un país donde se respeten las diferencias. En El Sistema hay niños y jóvenes hijos de chavistas y no chavistas. Se forman para tener éxito en lo que decidan emprender en la vida.

      ¿Qué proponen quienes tan agriamente critican, que el Maestro Abreu renuncie y que Maduro nombre a Jesse Chacón o a Farruco Sesto, para que en dos meses no quede nada de la obra de casi 40 años? ¡Ellos son de la escuela de Chávez, a quien no le tembló el pulso para despedir 20.000 empleados de Pdvsa!

      Estoy segura de que nadie que tenga la sensibilidad de formar niños y jóvenes para que rompan el círculo vicioso de la pobreza pueda cohonestar el que maten a alguien. Su obra debería hablar más que sus palabras, pero desgraciadamente no es así. En la Venezuela que tenemos, quienes piden inclusión son los primeros que excluyen. Quienes piden tolerancia son los más intolerantes. Destruyendo no vamos para ningún lado…

      Yo, por mi parte, seguiré defendiendo la mejor obra de Estado que ha habido jamás en Venezuela.


      • Edgar Pisani says:

        Felipe en re Carolina Jaimes Branger, cualquier persona que defienda a un regimen corrupto como el de Venezuela seguramente ha obtenido o esta obetiendo algun beneficio (probablemente $$$) del mismo.

        Dudamel no se limita a dirigir orquestas sino tambien a promover y hacer propaganda de un regimen corrupto y asesino. Quizas tambien por $$$$

        A veces la moral debe estar encima del dinero.

  • Andrew says:

    Jonathan Andrew Govias provides a lucid response to Gabriela’s open letter:

    Sistema in the crossfire

    Posted on February 17, 2014

    Different hand, same purse

    If the nation of Venezuela and Hugo Chávez had official Facebook pages (they probably do, in fact) their relationship status might be “It’s complicated.” No question, Chávez loved Venezuela, but the other half of the dyad, the 29.95 million Venezuelans, remains deeply divided in its feelings towards el Comandante. The common depiction of the country is one of a vast majority held hostage by a tiny cadre of privileged political extremists (No, that’s the USA, in reality) but Chávez and his administration have always enjoyed broad popular support, particularly from the poor. By a number of independently assessed measures, (i.e.: Gini coefficient) Chávez’s policies have benefited the impoverished. During his tenure, income inequality in Venezuela declined to a point on par with the US, and access to health and welfare services was greatly expanded. In last December’s municipal elections, widely viewed as a referendum on Maduro’s leadership, the government coalition earned 54% of the vote, a number higher than the slim 1.5% majority they earned in the March federal elections. Notwithstanding serious allegations of electoral fraud both times, a large segment of the population continues to identify with the Chávez vision of Socialism.

    For better or for worse, that vision actively embraces the Fundación Símon Bolívar, better known as el Sistema, through generous financial support of its activities. This money constitutes an inescapable relationship baseline between the giver and recipient: like it or not, Sistema and the government are connected, and the optics of this connection are proving increasingly problematic.

    I’m not, nor have I ever been, an apologist for Abreu or Dudamel. But I found the simplistic armchair punditry of Gabriela Montero (whom I greatly admire as an artist),and her public naming and shaming of Sistema’s two figureheads as distasteful as it was naïve. Her open letter was written from a place of great sorrow and great frustration, emotions shared by many in the expatriate community, but not from a perspective of great pragmatism. What outcome does she envision, were the two to “speak out” against the “dictatorship”? Perhaps she truly believes that the late Chávez and his successor are universally despised, and that one judicious word from the Maestros will foment sufficient public outrage to induce Maduro to resign.

    Breaking down the options

    But that simply won’t happen, given the degree of support the government continues to command. Even if Venezuela were a tinderbox of oppression waiting for a spark, it would hardly be consistent with the mission and values of the Fundación to advocate for the overthrow of the administration, in the certain knowledge that bloodshed would ensue. The only alternative Montero might have envisioned is that Abreu and his disciple resign publicly, thus taking a stance that would deny them any opportunity to influence the course of the nation, and deprive them of the authority to safeguard the Fundación and its charges at a time of crisis. It would be at best a grand gesture. A pointless one, but grand nonetheless. Maduro would accept the resignation with a public expression of regret, thank them for their service, and promise to continue the work. And the work would continue.

    Damned if you do…

    The reality is that Abreu’s political position is dangerous no matter what he does. With public sentiment so divided, political alignment in any direction would only serve to incur the enmity of the other half of the nation. For every child withdrawn from a Sistema núcleo because of the latter’s perceived anti-government bias, another is probably enrolled as a gesture of approbation and solidarity by pro-Chávez parents. Switch “anti” and “pro” in the preceding sentence and it still holds true. The least comfortable seat is the one on the fence, but that’s where the Fundación needs to be right now. The monetary policy of a fixed exchange rate, as instituted by Chávez in 2003, was an attempt to buy time for the government, quite literally, to extend otherwise unsustainable economic policies. As the Bolívar continues to devalue on the black market, its purchasing power in temporal terms has waned from years to months, perhaps even weeks.

    Different person, same tensions

    Different person, same tensions

    I’ve said this before: at some point, the party in Venezuela will be over and it will be time to pay the pipers. The social unrest, crime, inflation, scarcity of necessities and the electricity outages (in an energy rich nation?) are all escalating and may ultimately tip the balance in favour of the opposition. In the event of a national reversal along the political spectrum, how kindly disposed towards the Fundación will the new administration be, if it perceives Abreu as being an ardent supporter of Chávez’s Revolución Bolivariana? Strategically, neither Abreu nor the Fundación can benefit from a perception of strong alignment with any political party. The relationship that is visible, the relationship to which Montero objects so strongly, is the expansion of the relationship between any not-for-profit and its principal sponsor. The Fundación has obligations towards the government, not the least of which is expressing its appreciation publicly. And having bankrolled the massive expansion of Sistema’s domestic and international activities, the Chávez/Maduro government rightfully claims some association with its success. Negotiating this extremely fine line without angering someone is simply impossible.

    A Hypothetical Scenario

    Imagine if this situation were unfolding in the United States. A President installed via electoral fraud (it happened) institutes policies that grossly violate the rights of the citizens (it happened). The economy tanks as a result of extremely poor oversight of the financial sector (it happened): thousands of people march in the street to protest the situation (it happened) and are met on multiple occasions with violence and further violation of their rights (it happened). Suddenly Rocco Landesman, then Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, or Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director of the National Symphony, steps forth to explicitly decry the situation and government.

    It sounds ridiculous. It sounds pointless. It is both. So why are these expectations levied at Gustavo Dudamel and Maestro Abreu?

    The Bottom Line

    Dudamel and Abreu have never explicitly divulged their political leanings. Montero’s letter is rooted in one base assumption: that Dudamel and Abreu are among the 50% (+/-5%) of the Venezuelan population who oppose Chávez/Maduro. This may simply be wishful thinking on the part of the dissenters; it’s equally possible the two rank among the other 50% who are supporters, in which case two important points need to be made:

    It is entirely their right to hold such a view.

    Their personal politics don’t change anything.

    Political alignment by the Fundación towards the current government still risks alienating a significant proportion of the people, and does not negate the strategic need for Sistema to think beyond this administration to the next, and the next after that.

    It’s easy to buy into the illusion that everyone within the Fundación, from Abreu right down to the 5-year old in a recorder choir, shares the generally liberal values that characterize the Sistema movement internationally. But politics are as controversial and divisive in Venezuela as they are in America or Britain. In my last blog entry I wrote of “introducing a few shades of grey into bichromatic dichotomies” … in other words, appreciating the fact that not everything is black and white. Like most of the international community, I’m concerned about the situation in Venezuela. I’m concerned for my friends across the nation. But I’m extremely hesitant to draw hard and fast conclusions about the actions of Abreu or Dudamel without any understanding of the challenges they face. Clearly Dudamel has acquired some diplomatic skills from his teacher: his response to Montero deplored the recent violence without apportioning culpability. And even if I find his assertion that “Music is the universal language of peace” to be untrue on all counts (Not universal, not a language, and a very long association with war) I still appreciate the sentiment, and the deft evasion of politicizing the Fundación further.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      I have always admired some people’s ardent propensity, not to call it an un(?)conditioned reflex, to compare the American regime to the worst available, and their genius always to come up with an “almost as bad” result. They have done it with Stalin, with Brezhnev, I don’t even count how many times an American president has been compared to Hitler (US=SS being a classic). All this to say that Mr Andrew’s comparison (“Imagine if this situation were unfolding in the United States…”) is ludicrous.

  • I also like music and musician. but murdered 200000 people in past 15 years this is a very bad news. I can not accept it.