Just in: Gustavo Dudamel replies to Gabriela Montero’s open letter on Venezuela

Just in: Gustavo Dudamel replies to Gabriela Montero’s open letter on Venezuela


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2014

The maestro has sent a short response to the pianist’s criticism of him for performing music while fellow-citizens were being killed by forces of the regime.

Here’s Gustavo’s immediate response, sent to the newspaper El Universal, which linked to Slipped Disc’s publication of Gabriela’s letter.



Lo que nuestro Sistema Nacional de Orquestas y Coros Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela representa son los valores de Paz, Amor y Unión. El 12 de febrero es un día especial porque fue el día en que nació un proyecto que se ha convertido en emblema y bandera de nuestro país en el mundo. Conmemoramos pues a toda la juventud, conmemoramos el futuro, conmemoramos la hermandad. Nuestra música constituye el lenguaje universal de paz, por ello lamentamos los hechos acontecidos el día de ayer. Con nuestra música y nuestros instrumentos en mano, le decimos un no rotundo a la violencia y un sí contundente a la paz. Gustavo Dudamel.

What our National Network of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela represents are the values of Peace, Love and Unity. February 12 is a special day because it was the day that a project was born that has become the emblem and flag of our country to the world. Therefore, we commemorate all youth, we commemorate the future, we commemorate brotherhood. Our music represents the universal language of peace; therefore, we lament yesterday’s events. With our music, and with our instruments in hand, we declare an absolute no to violence and an resounding yes to peace. Gustavo Dudamel


  • dansk66 says:

    A very political non-response, as he knows what side of his bread has butter on.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      And where does your bread and butter come from, dansk66? Are you a resistance hero and fighter for higher ideals where you are currently located? Please tell us more about your heroic activities!

      You completely overlooked the fact that Dudamel has a big international career going on from which he makes more than enough butter so he doesn’t even need whatever better he is getting from the Venezuelan state. So the situation here is not quite that simple.

      • dansk66 says:

        I know The Dude and have seen and heard him and his orchestra, he is doing wonderful things for the young people of Venezuala, so, Michael,what is all about where my bread and butter is coming from, as an 80 year old my resistance fighter days are over. When and where did you fight?

        I do think that Gabriel Montero has a very valid point. The three girls in Russia made their point too. Such a prominent person as Dudamel might want to make a point too for the benefit of all the people of Venezuala.

        • Mark says:

          Peace, Love, Unity, Future, Brotherhood, Youth – well, well, well. Where have we heard all those before? I seem to remember hearing these slogans from the guys whom my father had to fight as a member of the anti-communist underground in Eastern Europe a few decades before. The guys who made my mother keep silent for over 50 years about her father they killed in a gulag.

          Let’s face it. Orchestral music is an expensive business. It can’t really function well without the state support. And the dictators of this world know all too well how to play this card. And sadly, some musicians go along with that. It is quite significant to see that it is the conductor who pays his dues to the regime and it is the pianist who has the courage to speak out. But does it really have to be like that? Like Ashkenazy, Rostropovich, Panufnik and a few others before him Dudamel with his international career has the choice to speak out about the atrocities which happen in his country. And yet he happily takes part in this international show which is to prove to the whole world that Venezuela is the most wonderful and happy country on the face of this planet.

          I am sorry, but I have a problem with that. Like I have a problem with the fact that everybody turns the blind eye to the World Orchestra for Peace having at its helm the conductor who conducts a concert for Russian military troops in Georgia just next to the prison camps full of Georgians defending their country. Like I have a problem with Baltic Youth Philharmonic – a youth orchestra created by Nord Stream (read – Gazprom) to promote one of the most politically and ecologically controversial projects of the last decade in Europe. Like I have a problem with maestro Dudamel smiling and making malambo-like mockery of a piece of music representing the most murderous man in history who was responsible for the death of my ancestors.

          Indeed, with all the dollars he is paid by the system so detested by his mentor Chavez he could really afford at least some basic integrity. I can’t really understand why should musicians get away with something people in other professions couldn’t. And if he really finds these imperialist dollars dirty – there would still be enough work for him back in Venezuela. If all he is able to come up with is just some lame letter with a few round slogans, then he shouldn’t really bother. I think the whole world would be much more interested to hear something meaningful that would explain how he reconciles these two sides in his head.

          Do we, classical musicians, really have to sell out our souls to do our business? There were some great men in history who didn’t (hail to Mr Beethoven!!!).

        • sdReader says:

          Fair enough, Dansk, but Gustavo Dudamel’s concise point about Peace, which was almost certainly prepared by someone else, if not Abreu himself, is also the strongest and most logical reply to Gabriela Montero. And it correctly laments the killings.

          • Marko says:

            Correctly, laments and DOES NOTHING, which is the same as moraly engaging those killings and violations against human liberties. He has the moral obligation to make pressure with his tools (his fame, orchestra, etc…) to stop that immoral behaviour of the government, and what does he? TALK AND DO NOTHING.

    • Talluah Zerkowui says:

      The Dude is a political pawn. He has been forced to make a deal with the devil – now he has to spin it anyway he can so he can sleep nights. What he is doing by standing on the sidelines being a guy all about the music – all about the kids – sad – and for what? So they can grow up and learn how to be a big star like the Dude and just keep playing music as your country burns. Pathetic!

  • Jeffrey Levenson says:

    Why are these two lovely artists arguing??

    “This will be our reply to violence:

    to make music more intensely,

    more beautifully,

    more devotedly than ever before.”

    Listen to Lenny B.

    • Doug says:

      You have that luxury because you live in a free society and food on your table. You dare to tell others who live in fear and hunger to play their music “more intensely”?

  • Daniel Farber says:

    Gustavo Dudamel’s response sounds nearly verbatim like that of a Stalinist artist in the late 40’s early 1950’s. People should read some of the stuff that came forth during the CP-fronted Waldorf Peace Conference in March, 1949. As dansk66 says, it fails to engage GM’s seriously intended rebuke except in party-line cliche and blather. Maestro Dudalmel, contrary to Leffrey Levenson’s assertion, is not and never has been a “lovely artist”. He has been and will likely continue to be a very-well marketed artist, but this is apart from the serious issue at hand. GM has bravely drawn a line in the sand. In so doing, she joins the likes of Orwell, Koestler, and Sidney Hook in combatting cowardice in the face of evil.

    • Brian says:

      Well said, Mr. Farber. Dudamel’s response is nothing but weasel words.

    • Cambridge says:

      Sorry but doesn’t the lady live in America? It’s all very well combating injustice from a safe haven but the artists she is criticising actually live there.

    • Absolutely different from Shostakovich – a example picked at easy – Dudamel has plenty of liberty to talk whatever he want, whenever he want and for whoever he want. He is someone who could make the difference but has choose cowardice, being pusillanimous, asking for peace and good music making… Please, give me a break! So he wants to make an effort with music making? Here are few examples: Toscanini went to New York, and spoke loud from there against fascism; at Yon Kipur war, Zubin Mehta flew to his comrades in Tel Aviv and stayed with his orchestra to play music for israeli civilians. Kurt Mazur stood negotiating this the end a peace agreement when things get worse in Leipzig. This little clown just does lip service. He is pro Chavez, which is like being pro Castro. Doubts? This video proves it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7iCyIXSyNE. People are starving. Shame on him!

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Things aren’t always the way they seem. Kurt Masur (“not “Mazur”) served the East German regime uncritically for decades, and he was rewarded with privileges few in the GDR enjoyed. Yes, at the very, very end, he made a good decision when he decided to open the Gewandhaus to demonstrators and he helped de-escalate the situation at that point, and he deserves credit for that. But that’s about it.

        Zubin Mehta has indeed always stood by Israel, and he has also always been outspoken about things he doesn’t like there, but Israel, no matter one what thinks of the country’s policies in general, is definitely not as repressive a regime as Venezuela is, so that comparison doesn’t make sense.

        And while the courage Mehta has shown in his life would put him in a position to criticize Dudamel, it doesn’t put *you* in such a position.

        • Wanderer says:

          So because Kurt Masur lived and worked in East Germany it means “he served the regime”? Did Karajan also “serve the German government” or more precisely the Senate of West Berlin, because he used to work there? Did Leonard Bernstein “serve the US administration” because he was a US conductor?

          I find these implications, that if you were not an open resistance fighter and dissident, but merely going about your profession, then you had compromised morals, very hypocritical to say the least. Such suggestions are completely unacceptable from people who all their adult life lived in freedom simply by lucky chance, not because they had risked their careers or even lives for it.

        • Geoff Radnor says:

          Masur and millions of others were kept in East Germany. He and many other great muisicians lived there, he at the head of one of the greatest orchestras in the world. I do not think he “served” the DDR any more or less than any of the other citizens. Many of the great artists, not only Masur, received benefits from the government. During those years at the helm of the Gewandhaus he didn’t show up at the great concert halls of the western world with his band of flag waving youngsters. It was a miracle if you could even get out of the country.

          I wonder what the young, and not so young, members of the orchestras in Venezuela think of all this. Are they well supplied with the necessities of life that the angry citizens are complaining they don’t have.

          Here is a country with the largest oil reserves in the world worth billions of dollars and there are demonstrations about the empty shelves in the supermarkets.

          I was in the east bloc before the end and the shops only had chocolate biscuits, and the baker was surrounded by eager buyers of his limited supply of bread.

        • And who is talking against Israel or making Mazur a saint? My argument was simple – just telling that if Dudamel really want peace he had plenty pf good examples of how to do it. But he want not, don’t care a dime for it, All he does is globetrotting all over the world – what his compatriots cannot – buying ferraris – what his compatriots cannot – without a hell of a word on the subject.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          ust to clarify, my comments were not intended to “bash” Masur who I think is an excellent conductor and who deserves credit for maintaining the high standards of the Gewandhausorchester, getting the new Gewandhaus built, and also for the positive role he played in the events in October of 1989; although that role was much smaller than many seem to think, and he only made the decision to broadcast that appeal to demonstrators and government organs at a very late stage when things had already reached boiling point. Whether he did that because he felt it was the right thing to do or simply because he saw the regime was about to come crashing down and he wanted to protect his own position is not that relevant; what matters is that things worked out the way they did and the GDR regime was toppled without much bloodshed.

          However, he simply wasn’t the resistance or revolutionary “hero” that some seem to think he was – nor did he ever claim he was, as far as I know.

          Like I said, things aren’t always the way they seem, and they rarely are as simple as they seem.

          Wanderer says:

          So because Kurt Masur lived and worked in East Germany it means “he served the regime”?

          Yes, he did. He had a very elevated and highly visible position as one of the foremost cultural representatives of the regime, he willingly filled the gap left when Vaclav Neumann stepped down from his post in Leipzig in protest when the Soviets beat down the Prague Spring, and he also enjoyed special privileges few other GDR citizens had, like the ability to travel freely to the West, expensive West German cars, and he also received the National Prize 1st Class of the GDR which came with a reward of 100,000 Mark – 100 times the monthly income of regular citizens of the workers’ and farmers’ paradise.

          In 1972, he crashed his white Mercedes limousine, killing three people (including his first wife). The regime swept the incident under the rug.


          Did Karajan also “serve the German government” or more precisely the Senate of West Berlin, because he used to work there?

          Yes, he did, and very well. In the postwar decades, the BPhO had an enormously important role in the cultural landscape of West Berlin; the city was physically and culturally destroyed, not much was left of the cultural metropolis it had been in the 20s. The BPhO was one of the few world class cultural institutions left and it played and important role as cultural ambassador of the city. In the 50s and well into the 60s, many had more or less given up on the city thought that West Berlin would fall to the communists sooner or later anyway. Karajan maintained and even elevated the quality of the orchestra and its reputation. Fortunately, the West Berlin Senate was a big bumbling bureaucracy but hardly a sinister totalitarian regime, so there was no moral dilemma there.

          Did Leonard Bernstein “serve the US administration” because he was a US conductor?

          Not that I know of. In his role as principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic, he was employed by the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc., as far as I know a private organization.

          I find these implications, that if you were not an open resistance fighter and dissident, but merely going about your profession, then you had compromised morals, very hypocritical to say the least.

          I agree.

          Such suggestions are completely unacceptable from people who all their adult life lived in freedom simply by lucky chance, not because they had risked their careers or even lives for it.

          I agree. And that is why I think it is not that simple, and people shouldn’t judge Dudamel without really understanding the situation he is in, and people shouldn’t babble about what this or that “hero” allegedly did without understanding their situation either.

  • Nelson Armitano says:

    Lame and frivolous response … But what else can you expect from him

  • Dan, with respect and old friendship, Gabriela Montero, while courageously speaking the truth, doesn’t have a lot on the line. There are 400,000 kids in Venezuela for whom El Sistema is a lifeline — a program 90% funded by Maduro’s government. I can’t see any useful purpose in Gustavo Dudamel telling the world what is already bloody obvious to anyone who cares — and thereby jeopardizing the one hopeful thing that his country has to offer its own citizens and the rest of the world. It seems unfair of GM to push him when he’s walking a tightrope.

    • She’d have her life on the line if she went back to Ve. That seems plenty to me.

      • You’re right, Norman, of course. And I do say she is courageous in speaking the truth. I admire her.

        • Mark says:

          I bet she has family in Venezuela too. I just remember the stories about Ashkenazy and the fears he had to face for his family left behind in Soviet Russia when he escaped to the West.

          Let’s face it. El Sistema could deliver its results to the kids of Venezuela without Dudamel’s support too. What he does is giving the international lustre to this project – not really essential to helping the kids from slums of Caracas. And the worrying thing is that concert promoters go along with that by pushing to the international stage some other Venezuelan musicians who are far behind Dudamel with their musical abilities, mainly on the basis of the El Sistema legend. The musical PR works with Venezuelan political PR hand in hand.

    • Raisa says:


      You are wrong the Sistema has 39 years of founded is not the patrimony Maduro government, for 39 years had had the support all democratic governments of the country.

      I’m a admirer of Gustavo Dudamel and sisyema but that day were killing students in the streets of Venezuela, CAN NOT SPEAK OF PEACE

      • You’re right, Raisa. El Sistema has had the financial backing of eight successive Venezuelan regimes. It has succeeded, in part, by maintaining political neutrality under very difficult circumstances. Except as a fellow human being, I have no dog in this fight — but it seems to me that if I had responsibility for the well-being of 400,000 children, their parents, teachers, and all the people who have worked so hard for 39 years to make El Sistema the remarkable success that it is, I would be very hesitant to poke Maduro in the eye. With luck, the Sistema will be there for the 9th regime — and the 10th.

        I view the Sistema as a subversive activity. Can these awful governments survive in the long run where generations of socially-conscious young people grow up having seen the world, — bright, disciplined, responsible, and self-confident in expressing themselves?

        • Mark says:

          “Can these awful governments survive in the long run where generations of socially-conscious young people grow up having seen the world, — bright, disciplined, responsible, and self-confident in expressing themselves?”

          YES!!! Just look at the history of Soviet Russia. There was no shortage of Soviet artists traveling around the world. Remember that it wasn’t in Russia that the fall of Communism started. Remember also, that despite all the international business and travel the Russian elite still don’t believe in democracy. You would be shocked how ubiquitous the doubt in democracy is spread amongst the Russian society. Something that you would find almost embarrassing to admit to at a high society cocktail party in the West!

          • Brian says:

            Let us not forget that Howard Zinn, among other fashionable intellectuals and pseudo-historians was sorry when the USSR foundered and said he had been rather sentimental about it. Some elderly Russians even get teary-eyed and wistful when you mention Stalin. And there’s not much edification to be derived from the spectacle of Gergiev or Netrebko giving props to Putin whose anti-gay laws are the modern equivalent of the Nuremberg Race Laws. Nor from Dude, the Pied Piper. But for every Toscanini, Busch, Casals and Rostropovich, there are a hundred musicians who will go along to get along.

          • Wanderer says:

            “Putin whose anti-gay laws are the modern equivalent of the Nuremberg Race Laws.”

            Sorry, but that’s very much out of proportion, so much that it’s actually nonsense. And an insult to all the victims of those Race laws.

          • Brian says:

            Quote: “Usually, comparisons to Nazism are idle and misplaced. But the new anti-gay legislation in Russia, a supposedly progressive democracy, is truly reminiscent of the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws”-Eleanor Margolis, NewStatesman

            I am hardly the only one to draw the parallel.

  • Pete says:

    the Dude’s response is,- like his Mahler performances – Lame.

  • David Beard says:

    A musician or any form of artist amounts to nothing if they stop exercising their art. An artist can not make an impact of any kind by becoming nothing. For artists to make powerful statements, they must find means through the exercise of their art, not by abstaining from it.

  • DesiN says:

    Dudamel – you should have suspended this concert due to the masacre was happening in the Venezuela’s street.s That is the point… Otherwise you are telling everybody that what is happing outside of your Sistema doesn’t matter for you.

    • Gustavo says:

      Fleming, DiDonato, the NYphil should all stop singing and playing until Obama’s drones stop killing children who attend weddings. Music is an oasis of peace among the VARIOUS forms of barbaric behaviour that inhabit this world.

      • Wanderer says:

        Don’t expect your words to be heard. Nobody here from the supposedly free country USA will lead by example. They will keep killing children and women, because they are brainwashed to believe that those are their enemies that deserve to be killed in the thousands. They are also told what to think when it comes to Venezuela. Hypocrisy is king, humanity is rare.

        Let’s the people of Venezuela take care of this. Unfortunately that wish is still born, because already the usual suspects meddle from all sides in that country.

        • Brian says:

          Hypocrisy rules in the good ole USA. If Obama was a Republican there would be nonstop demonstrations and marches in the streets.

          • Wanderer says:

            Brian, nobody in the world cares about that funny Republican-Democrats charade you have going there to distract the people from the real issues. The plutocracy is a one party system, much like Soviet style, only with more cash in the bank, self made paper cash nevertheless.

    • nyer says:

      That is perhaps true.

  • afrostbyte says:

    It is a very difficult line for Maestro Dudamel to walk. On the one hand, I am sure he personally feels the same pain and desperation that Ms. Montero does, but having been in the nucleus, I see that these communities created by Maestro Abreu are like a safe haven for those who are involved, adults and youth alike. They are using the craft they know best to protest in the way they know how, by attempting to change the country from the inside out, through the peaceful way of making art; like Messiaen in the concentration camps during WWII, making art is the way to stay alive. To jeopardize that by admonishing the government that funds this project could very well destroy the little happiness that still exists in the country.

    On the other hand, as strong figureheads of the Venezuela, it is possible that a more vocal protest from Dudamel and Abreu could create a tipping point; perhaps their contacts around the world could unite with them in trying to change what is going on there. I see the frustration of people like Montero through my colleagues and friends who are Venezuelan who live both inside and outside the country; but everyone must contribute to change in the country in his or her own way. Perhaps the concert on February 12 saved the lives of some people who might otherwise have been involved in the massacre. Shouldn’t that be a consideration?

  • kindadukish says:

    Oh I do love these democratic freedom fighters safely ensconced in the USA. At least Dudamel has the balls to stay in Venezuela when it would be so easy for him to base himself permanently abroad.

  • Raisa says:


    You are wrong the Sistema has 39 years of founded is not the patrimony Maduro government, for 39 years had had the support all democratic governments of the country.

    I’m a admirer of Gustavo Dudamel and sisyema but that day were killing students in the streets of Venezuela, CAN NOT SPEAK OF PEACE

  • Joy Bechtler says:

    I wonder what the young musicians playing that night experienced. It would seem if it took the courage, love and commitment to make music in such violent circumstances that I imagine it might have required of them, individually, then maybe their understanding of how music transforms and moves towards peace has been affected and will inform our future world. Certainly, we as onlookers grow in empathy for what must have been a deeply difficult concert to perform.

    • Janey says:

      Thank you for that point. What amazing young musicians.

      • Mark says:

        It is all so easy to get dreamy-eyed about this. But come back to earth. No, there is little or even no courage at all in playing in a nice, cosy and safe concert hall as prescribed by the regime, when other people are dying in the streets. As a teenager I happened to go in a group of students in the First of May parade in an Eastern European city back in eighties right after the Chernobyl catastrophe with an anti-nuclear badge on my chest. I was risking to be expelled from my school, my parents being put out of work, and yet it would never cross my mind to put any claim to courage or heroism. Believe me. Those kids playing beautiful music didn’t really risk much. Please don’t make the word “courage” sound cheap. It should be reserved only for some real heroes.

    • Maria Fernanda Aristeguieta says:

      It was the perfect opportunity to make a point without violence… WALKING OUT OF THE STAGE, every allowed TV camera was there LIVE. They look happy and played like nothing was going on…. So sad to watch. The system is for kids to have a better future, this is not the example we want for out children, to be selfish and callous.

      I live in Venezuela, my family lives here, this is my country and THE DUDE comes and goes as he pleases (which is the normal thing to do). I can’t because I have been assigned just 3000 US$ To travel abroad, weird right? How can this be if Venezuela is a rich country with oil?

  • Doug says:

    For those interested in the present state of matters in Venezuela:

    Army sent in to Venezuelan cities as unrest prompts coup warning


    Twitter Says Venezuela Blocks Its Images Amid Protest Crackdown


  • I invitate everyone to come to live in Venezuela and suffer this disaster!

  • MarieTherese says:

    “Your silence will not protect you.”

    ― Audre Lorde

  • Good for both, The fact that they don’t agree on how to protest it doesn’t make El sistema and Gustavo less legitimate. Saying that having a concert is supporting the violence is non sense.

  • bazzaroo says:

    ‘They’ say that music and sport is NOT political. It IS!

  • Gaukerl says:

    In Venezuela we are not discussing about his talent, we are discussing about his ethic and moral, and we think he does not has both of them. You cannot speak about piece and love always, and use the Sistema as defense wall to be complicit with this corrupt and dictatorial government. You have only to take a look what was Gustavo doing in the last two years in our country. Been together with assassins and back to Mickey Mouse. You cannot be really safe if you play with fire.

  • timwalton3 says:

    Gustavo has obviously had lessons from Gergiev.

    Both get loads of money from tyranical dictators so darn’t make a critical comment of they might disappear!

  • NanaPlanas says:

    . y como Poncio Pilatos se lavó las manos .

  • Carlos says:

    So he says he stands for peace and love whilst playing music for a dictator at a military parade? Please someone tell me that there is obvious something wrong here…is the world mad?

    Simply put, he is doing the mambo for the elite where in other parts of caracas students were massacred.

  • nyer says:

    Wouldn’t Dudamel speaking out endanger the Sistema and indeed perhaps even the young people who rely on it? Would Venezuela’s regime use those children as “hostages” to retaliate against Dudamel if he took a stand? Just asking – I am no Dude fan and have no dog in the race – but I think this is a question one should ask before accusing Dudamel of “cowardice”, which is loaded with assumptions about his intentions or motivations, about which you commenters can’t know.

  • Tom Foley says:

    Gabriela Montero cites 200,000 murdered in the last fifteen years. Can anyone participating here give me some context for this number, who came up with it, method used, anything?

    • Wanderer says:

      Venezuela has a very high murder rate per capita. Ms. Montero is citing those victims of widespread criminality as direct government victims.

      • Brian says:

        When you take away a person’s right to protect and arm himself that’s what happens. I’d bet the murder rate is even higher in Chicago and D.C. where the authorities have prevented law abiding citizens from self-defense while criminals and thugs have all the guns they want.

        • timwalton3 says:

          Sorry, but this is a daft reply.

          No civilised country should allow ordinary citizens to wander around with guns. That’s why I would never visit the USA as it’s full of Gun Nuts, God Nuts & Tea Party Nuts & I don’t know which its the worst.

          Countries who allow anyone to carry guns deserve completely what they get – high death rates.

          • Brian says:

            By all means, don’t visit. Your assertions are pulled out of your hat and completely unfounded not to say bigoted.

          • timwalton3 says:

            Just the kind of reply I would have expected from an obvious Gun Nut.

          • Brian says:

            Read John Lott’s ‘More Guns, Less Crime.” It will do you good. But this is rather getting off topic.

          • Greg Hlatky says:

            By spending a few minutes researching the matter we learn that in 2011 (the last year for which FBI statistics are available) Chicago had a homicide rate of about 16 per 100,000, mostly committed with firearms. During that time, to own a firearm legally in Chicago it was necessary to obtain a firearms permit, including taking a training course, passing a background check and paying a $100 fee.

            In contrast, the gun laws in Vermont are very lax: no registration, no permits, no magazine restrictions. The state constitution is clear: “[T]he people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State.” The homicide rate in Vermont in 2011 was 1.3 per 100,000.

            Conclusion: there is no correlation between carrying guns and the homicide rate.

      • Tom Foley says:

        Wanderer: thank you for your reply–“Venezuela has a very high murder rate per capita. Ms. Montero is citing those victims of widespread criminality as direct government victims.”

        But can anyone tell me where she got the figure of 200,000, and what evidence does she have that they are all direct government victims? Why shouldn’t I believe that she is drawing the figure of 200,000 out of the air, and claiming that they are all direct government victims?

  • Lefébure says:


    This is a video uploaded by a Venezuelan citizen. Please watch if you are concerned about this matter.

  • ed says:

    Frankly, I think the Dude is doing just fine, and the ‘artistes’ who are trashing him and demonizing the Maduro government are not only way out in left field, they are sitting in the bleachers and listening to another game.

    What Sidney Hook, (or Leo Strauss or his neocon and neoliberal acolytes and their myth of “American Exceptionalism”) has to do with Venezuelan democracy is a mystery, but o.k., I’ll grant that, apart from his opposition to Stalin (which was well and good), that old Trotskyite, Sidney, would have supported a dictatorship of the wealthy so-called ‘educated’ elite, whether or not it denied a voice to, or ensured the disenfranchisement of, the poor and oppressed. As for Orwell and Koestler, why desecrate their names here with false branding?

    (In effect, what you are saying is ‘what do the poor or their elected leaders know about what’s good for them?’) For all those who support democracy, wake up: Maduro and his party won in an open election FAIR AND SQUARE. Now if your REAL agenda is to oppose his policies, and to do so by overthrowing his democratically elected government, (and do it with the help of the CIA, which has its hand in most of the media outlets of that country, and every other Latin American country for that matter), then go ahead. But be honest about it, and about the CIA’s involvement in the sabotage (arson, bombing, etc.) of Venezuela’s energy infrastructure (pipelines, refineries, utility grids, etc.) that is so crucial to the economic survival and well being of that country and its people. Yes, let’s destroy Venezuela’s assets, then hide in the weeds, and pretend someone else did it, so the people will finally see the light and realize that our offer is the one they can’t refuse. Everything happening right now is consistent with our COIN (i.e.- counterinsurgency) strategy of urban terror, the one we developed for Vietnam (based on the what the French did in Indochina and Algeria, and the British in Yemen and the Middle East- and everywhere else for that matter- to keep down the natives), and that worked so well for us in the Congo (oh, I forgot Belgium in the COIN user list), and in Central America with its ‘dirty wars’ in the 1980’s under John Negroponte and Col. Steele, and later in Iraq under Negroponte, Steele and Robert Ford, and later still in Syria under Ford, and in Ukraine, and now in South America, again, under William Brownfield.

    Mr. Farber, I respect your use of language, and commitment to your beliefs, and your knowledge of music- I thought you were spot on with your fine words about Harold Shapero. I think Gabriella Montera speaks authority about Venezuela WITH RESPECT TO her class, position and interests, but not for the majority- i.e., those who voted for Maduro. She is a wonderful pianist, and her improvisational skills are a marvel- and, she is engaging and beautiful- but none of this, unfortunately (or fortunately), has anything to do with the reality of the condition of most of the people in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America who seem to have done better on the whole with some measure of independence from the US and IMF, than they did when their countries were totally dominated by the empire to their north and the ruling elites who shill for them.

    And, Norman, with all due respect, how will Ms. Montera’s comments, which are no different from the daily harangues of the elite-controlled media in Venezuela, put her life at risk if she returns to Venezuela? (Yes, contrary to what the mainstream media here would like one to think, most of the Venezuelan press is owned by the disaffected elite of that country, and can publish whatever it wants.) If there is something life threatening it should be disclosed. Without more, it is hard to believe.

    If we support democracy and human rights, let’s not destroy it, and then manufacture something else and try to sell it by labeling it as something it isn’t. And, let’s leave alone those artists who are doing their best to deliver their creative work to their public.

  • ed says:

    My apologies for misspelling Gabriela Montero’s name.

  • Oliveiro Herreira says:

    El Sistema is the very same propaganda tool as was all the money invested in East Germany’s or Soviet Union’s or any other East Bloc athletes. The only reason for their existence was the government trying to look better while being what it was. Same thing in Venezuela – a corrupted and murderous regime making a few chosen happier than the rest and pretending it’s a general good.

    And of course, the naive US and worldwide leftie-liberals are eating this line, hook and sinker. As they did many times before. As they believed Stalin was a great humanist. As they believe the Cuban health care is something wonderful (while Cuban girls would prostitute themselves for a package of Aspirin and a toothpaste).

    And it’s just shameful and disdainful that Dude is leading one of US’ great orchestras, because it’s good propaganda and good business. The videos from his rehearsals in Hollywood Bowl speak for themselves – a guy who has no idea about what he’s conducting and no idea about what he should do during a rehearsal. And the results are adequate – for those who can hear the difference, of course. For the rest it’s just great hair, flailing arms and a touching story of a cultural heroism — that is in fact just a completely corrupted cowardice and adherence to a terrorist regime.

    Did you watch? http://youtu.be/EFS6cP9auDc

    • Brian says:

      well said, sir.

    • ed says:

      Mr Herreira- This ‘leftie-liberal’ (is that what I is?) thought the regime was making the “CHOSEN FEW” unhappier than MOST of the rest, while advancing the general good in many areas including better education and health care for the poor and a declining poverty rate. Sorry, if after all of the murderous attempts to disrupt Venezuela’s economy and spread urban terror, it is now more difficult for everyone. But who has caused that? Maybe the ‘chosen few’ and the directorate from the north? As for Stalin, are YOU suggesting he was a humanist? I hope not, and I also hope you are not suggesting that those who have been responsible for all them wars that have killed all them innocent folk, and wounded and dispossessed so many millions more, are humanists (or that those who ran the Dirty Wars in Latin America and are poised to do it again are).

      And, why trash Cuban health care, when it has made some of the greatest advances in tropical disease research and combatting tropical disease, notwithstanding the over fifty years of illegal sanctions that have denied the country critical medicines and research equipment. Had Cuba not been punished over so many decades by the US and every other country that was coerced to observe U.S. sanctions, (and have such difficulty ‘buying toothpaste and aspirin’ and every other necessity from Colgate Palmolive and Bayer, et al) maybe the Cuban people would not have been so impoverished. But then again, who am I to question ‘humanitarian sanctions’?

      Now let’s get to the nitty gritty. The Dude is a talented conductor- certainly not a Toscanini, or a Furtwangler, or a Barenboim, at least not yet, and maybe never- but he is young, has energy and a strong musical sensibility and curiosity, and, what’s more, he has been reaching out to the community in Venezuela and in the States in innumerable ways. Frankly, LA did just fine in hiring him (and is probably making lots of money as a result)- and I am willing to wager that he has been an inspirational force for the Latino community in Los Angeles and many of its youth who are now inclined to pursue music- and if you trash his technical abilities just because you disagree with his politics, who will be travelIng the low road and spreading propaganda now?

  • ed says:

    I would urge those who seek more information about the current state of affairs in Venezuela to



  • Ben says:

    To anyone interested in the situation in Venezuela, the role of the media and also the role of the US, I strongly recommend this documentary about the (media) coup in 2002: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Revolution_Will_Not_Be_Televised_(film)

  • ed says:

    Ben- good that you mentioned that documentary. The Venezuelan media in 2001 was complicit in events it choreographed to blame the government falsely for firing on protestors. This was later discovered and proved with footage that shot the media in the foot and left yolk on its face. Furthermore the opposition was involved in the assassination of at least one high level government official and the attempted assassination of several others. So, this was not an innocent or non-violent opposition protest movement. The same is believed to be happening again today.

  • ed says:

    For another good article on the current situation in Venezuela, see: Violent Protests in Venezuela Fit a Pattern

    by Dan Beeton at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/02/19-10

    • Millie says:

      All I know ed is that the article of Dan Beeton fits a pattern. A pattern of somebody that very comfortably from his own space writes an article about the present reality of a country he know nothing about. We Venzuelans grow tired of people that feel themselves fit to have an opinion based in anything but the crude reality of a country desperately fighting for freedom. and regarding Dudamel you can be a great musician and a mediocre human being…it has happened in the past and is happening now!

      • ed says:

        millie: I certainly don’t question your motivation or your experience, but the bottom line is that if free elections are any measure of a people’s political sentiment, and are a sine qua non of ‘human rights’, then it would appear that more people in Venezuela disagree with the opposition than agree, and that their voice is the one that should be upheld. Some of your compadres have responded that, based on YouTube footage, etc., the elections were rife with abuse to the point of being fixed. Many others dispute that claim and maintain that the elections were fair. if our elections are an example, there probably were some abuses- (even in our own country dead people have been known to vote, and in the last election, people from Chicago were bussed to vote in Wisconsin)- but the general consensus is that in the end these made no difference in the final results, and now, after much hesitation, even our Secretary of State John Kerry has finally agreed to accept them. So, if you believe in democracy, your election and its results should have meant something even if the ‘wrong guy’ won.

        As for Beeton and ‘the pattern of somebody that very comfortably from his own space writes an article about the present reality of a country he know[s] nothing about’, what you say is fine as far as it goes, but don’t forget that when someone publishes an open letter in the U.S. press to try to influence American public opinion about the ‘human rights abuses’ they maintain they are facing, and when in effect they are asking the American public and U.S. government to support, and/or commit its resources, or perhaps even intervene directly in the affairs of your country to help you overthrow your democratically elected government, then you must expect people here to question the truth of what has been alleged, and do their best to vet the facts from whatever sources may be available.

        What Beeton is knowledgeable about is what OUR OWN government has done (and is doing) to foment violent demonstrations in your country and elsewhere- including its strategy, techniques, and tactics- and he has every right to comment on that, and to urge that our Government not intervene in your country’s internal affairs or be moved by those who seek to influence public opinion in the United States. And, face it, maybe also, the American public is getting tired of having to run interference or satisfy the agenda of others, and to do so unconditionally, when its own national interest would be compromised or at least would not be advanced.

        And, Dudamel? Why is he a mediocre person? Is it because he sees a different, more balanced reality and may be right? And, why not also question the motivation of those musicians who are actively seeking to demonize him?

  • Jaakko Kuusisto says:

    It is really sad to see some people degrade the value of El Sistema to some sort of propaganda tool. We know – for a fact – that this system has been of tremendous help to countless kids. Apparently now the time is right for some Dudamel-bashing, and all means are justified.

  • Miranda says:

    Montero and Dudamel lives in America , the Sistema had invested millons of $ in a proyect which has existed long time ago.Both Montero and Dudamel have profited of the Saudi Political Culture in Venezuela .Nothing new but the battle of gaining power or keep power from the rich oil state unfortunately plaged by ignorant people , it is a shame.