Venezuelan conductor attacks ‘injustice, systematic torture, atrocities’

Venezuelan conductor attacks ‘injustice, systematic torture, atrocities’


norman lebrecht

February 20, 2014

Carlos Izcaray studied in El Sistema from the age of three, completing his music education in the US. For three years, he was conductor of the Mozarteum-Caracas Chamber Orchestra. Today, he is based in Berlin. Carlos has asked us to circulate his appeal below for an end to government-sponsored violence in his home country.

carlos izacaray

To my friends and colleagues from the music world, both from Venezuela

and all around the globe.

Through this medium I’d like to call on all of you to unite, with

instruments in hand, to repudiate and strongly manifest against the

rampant violence and human rights violations that are currently being

perpetrated by the Venezuelan government on its own citizenry. Lets

render our tribute of support to those who have exposed and given

their lives whilst defending our Liberty. This basic right of all free

people has now been unequivocally sequestered by a despotic and

tyrannical Government, one that wishes to lead through fear,

intimidation, and violence.

This special event, which we have titled CONCERT FOR THE LIBERTY OF

VENEZUELA, and that will take place in Berlin, Germany, will serve as

our protest and condemnation of the barbarities that our people are

being subjected to, specially those calling for the restoration of

Democracy and its basic rights. We will also articulate a strong

message to the whole world, not just with our art, but also with our

ideas and reigning civic spirit.

We find ourselves in a profound cycle of sadness and frustration,

terrorized by the images and stories that reach us from our homeland.

Therefore, as a Venezuelan, I feel it is my civil obligation to share

the numerous stories of atrocities and abuses that a nation claiming

for its freedom is being subjected to. Venezuela has been erased from

the democratic landscape by a wave of shortages, censure of the press,

violence, and a polarizing message by a dictatorship that must now be

openly exposed.

I have personally survived and witnessed the injustices, systematical

tortures, humiliations, and other attempts against humanity that this

regime continues to inflict on our youth. For this reason, and without

the ability to stomach any more of this cruel violence, I commit

myself fully to this event, while also shouting “Enough is


It is important to clarify that our intention is to remain

pluralistic, peaceful, and open to all. No one is obligated to attend,

but I will certainly be there. For this cause, I’m even willing to

go it alone in the company of my cello and a full set of empty stands

and chairs. Naturally, though, the stage remains open to all who

believe in these ideals and wish to participate.


created exclusively to consolidate all the different criteria, and

specially to provide a medium through which we can face the logistical

challenges ahead. As professionals, it is important to point out that

we must totally abstain from publishing destructive criticisms and/or

out of place comments in the site. It is also imperative that we

transmit a message of unity and civil courage, which our country

desperately needs.

We all do what we do for a reason, and what a blessing to know that in

epic moments of history such as these we can bravely contribute and

fight for that sacrosanct right which is OUR Liberty. I’d also like

to invite the whole Venezuelan and world community to help us with

this endeavor. Every grain is worth gold.

Just as Venezuela itself, the program is still to be determined,

depending on our own collective effort and summoning power. Together,

we can help our own and make history!

Anybody willing to help? Please sign up!

Carlos Izcaray


  • Rgiarola says:

    Bravo Izcaray! Bravo Montero!

    I’ve personally got friends that we don’t know about then in the last weeks. The international company I work for asked all employees to stay home, since we’re worried about their safeness.

    More and more Dudamel prove to be a Puppet. His message to LAtimes makes me feel that he is putting El Sistema, above life of all Venezuelan citizens killed by the sponsor of his beloved system. Music, culture, education are all at the top of priorities, but they aren’t above human rights. Dudamel got his incredible international career, and It gives security that should be the reason He could be the first to stand up for his own people. He shouldn’t be afraid for his El Sistema to suffer any backlash by the murder sponsor, since worst things than it are already happening.

    He could make much more difference showing the true in Venezuela, than trying to paint with beautiful color and hiding behind political speeches to US newspaper.

  • Xavier says:

    Can’t find it on Facebook, but interested, of course, as cellist.



    • Carlos Raffo says:

      Fernando….soy Carlos Raffo, peruano que vivió en Caracas hace muchos años y nos conocimos. Pienso en lo difícil de la situación en Venezuela ahora.

  • Gabriela Montero says:

    Bravo Carlos! I am a good friend of this wonderful young man and I am beyond proud that he is joining us in speaking out publicly against the atrocities that are occurring in Venezuela. Our people are being massacred by the government, and the world is still relatively silent. Those of you that can accompany him in this protest, please be there! Lend him your support. A true artist will always speak out in the face of injustice and human suffering. And our voices DO make a difference.

    I only hope Gustavo Dudamel will have the integrity and dignity to speak out as well. We are all waiting for that, but I’m afraid the day will never come.

    Bravo!! Un abrazo!!

    Gabriela Montero

    • Marguerite Foxon says:

      I applaud you Gabriela and also Carlos. I hope too that Maestro Dudamel will speak out a little more forcefully and less correct politically. He has a huge influence.

  • Maigualida Lopez says:

    Bravo por los dos, sacaron la frente por el mundo musical venezolano. Se que el maestro Izcaray ha sufrido en carne propia las arbitrariedades de un regimen que apoya la delincuencia. Felicitaciones a su padre quien debe estar orgulloso de la integridad de su hijo

  • Maigualida Lopez says:

    Forget about G.Dudamel. He is already with them and honestly it is too late, many venezuelans are dead while he was playing his Mambo for the regime

  • Brian says:

    BRAVO! And it’s increasingly clear The Dude is not exactly another Toscanini, E. Kleiber or Casals–in any sense.

  • Peter Rosen says:

    This is exactly the kind of Statement and Effort Dudamel should have made but didn’t. [redacted]

  • Vania says:

    I can’t find the group in facebook..

  • José Bergher says:

    In his excellent letter, Carlos writes: (…) “I have personally survived and witnessed the injustices, systematical tortures, humiliations, and other attempts against humanity that this regime continues to inflict on our youth.” (…)

    “Personally survived and witnessed”. Absolutely true. Ten years ago, Carlos underwent and survived a horrific experience at the hands of the same repressive, murderous gang. I wrote about it in a letter that was published in the April 2004 issue of Allegro Magazine (American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, NYC, of which I am a member.

    Here is the letter:


    To the Editor:

    My colleague Carlos Izcaray, principal cellist of Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela [founded in 1930 and Venezuela’s oldest orchestra], was kidnapped and savagely beaten and tortured by National Guardsmen, in Caracas, Venezuela on March 1.

    Izcaray was standing in the street close to his home, watching a demonstration against Hugo Chávez’ regime. Several National Guardsmen approached him. He explained that he was just a spectator, but they beat him up, threw tear gas in his face, arrested him, put him in a military vehicle and took him to headquarters, even after he told them he was the principal cellist of the orchestra and guest conductor for the week. They beat him up some more and applied electricity to his neck and head, and tear gas directly to his face. They also burned cigarettes on his skin and kept beating him up. His lawyer was not allowed to see him at all. But somebody at headquarters took pity on Izcaray and let him make a phone call. This probably saved Izcaray’s life. He was finally released on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

    Izcaray is in the hospital recovering from his many injuries and from dehydration He does not want to go home, as the National Guardsmen threatened to kill him if he said anything to the media.

    Most Venezuelans want the dictator Chávez and his henchmen to step down. His many attempts at sabotaging a referendum have unleashed demonstrations all over the country. To stop them, Chávez has used the National Guard, paramilitary gangs, and the police forces of some cities. Results so far: 11 demonstrators dead; 1,758 wounded, at least nine (among them Izcaray) tortured, and 410 political prisoners. Venezuela’s ambassador to the UN just resigned in protest against these violations of human rights.

    –José Bergher

  • marco colantoni says:


    Can’t find the group

  • No encuentro la pagina en FB

  • Todos tenemos que unirnos y hablar venezolano! Te felicito

    me mantendré atenta y ojala pueda asistir! Soy Venezolana y actualmente vivo en Italia

  • Monica says:

    Muchas gracias por no olvidarte de nosotros en estos momentos.

  • Deborah Realini says:

    I am a Venezuelian living in Milan and for me it would be a pleasure if I can help somehow…just give me details of the event, when where and how much i will do my best to attend…and if you have more ideas to support Venezuela let me know we can work together on it. Thank you. Deborah


    Bravo, Carlos, for speaking out loudly against this false and deceptive socialism, for raising your voice denouncing these corrupt and despicable politicians, for confronting the current de facto dictatorship, manipulated and backed by Cuban infiltrators to pursue their own economic agenda. Easy task, to take advantage of a buffoon purporting to be President of Venezuela! Through his actions and by recurring to criminal measures to stifle the legitimate outcry of the people, he and his cronies are showing once more that they are utterly incapable of governing a country through democratic means.

    I regret the attitude adopted by those that can’t face the seriousness and truth of the situation and prefer to bury their heads in the sand.

    Have a fantastic concert!

    Maurice Hasson

  • Gisela Echeverria says:

    APPLAUSES STANDING UP, querido compatriota Carlos! Thank you for your words… but beyond your words, for standing up and CALLING MUSICIANS to join your cause and intentions for VENEZUELA! I wish I could be in Germany to be there… and share with you this glorious moment!

    Yes… I agree with all who have mentioned that Dudamel should show such dignity… in the name of MUSIC and the Venezuelan musical group he ‘represents’. I respect his fantastic talent… yet this ‘respect’ has faded away many years ago… when I became aware of his compliance with the castro-regime planted in VENEZUELA…

    APPLAUSES STANDING UP AGAIN…. to you and all the musicians that will be there with you in this CONCIERTO PARA LA LIBERTAD FE VENEZUELA!!!


  • Gabriel says:

    FB group!!!!!!!! Please provide link. Thanks.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    ¡Excelente!… from the bleeding Venezuela

  • Javier says:

    I think Dudamel behaves like a modern court musician…

  • Diana Lucas says:

    Gracias Carlos Izcaray! The passion of being venezuela comes from the soul and not from the ego like many other venezuelan recognized musicians… Thanks again!

  • Elio Salcedo Latouche says:

    Great cause! We are first human beings and then artists. Ignoring all the hardship times over this 15 years in Venezuela would entail supporting opression and totalitarianism. Hee you have another willing helping hand in Venezuela! Bravo maestro

  • Ana Vielma says:

    Gracias Carlos, Mil gracais por mirar hacia tu tierra. A ti también Gabriela por no dejarnos solos. El silencio hace cómplices a algunos. El tiempo y la historia les pasarán factura. Espero que se den cuenta de ello a tiempo.

    Mil gracias queridos y admirados venezolanos.

    P.D.: Carlos crecí con la música de tu padre. Que bello que tengas este coraje de enfrentar la arbitrariedad desde tu posición. Tus padres lo han hecho bien.