Latest from Geoff Baker:
At a recent large meeting at El Sistema’s Centre for Social Action through Music, a government representative, the Vice-Minister of Supreme Happiness (!) Carolina Cestari, reminded the institution’s employees that their funding came from the President’s Office, and they should therefore support the government’s revolutionary process or find a new job. They were told not to sign the petition for a recall referendum that has been the main focus of opposition efforts in recent months. It appears they are also now expected to join pro-government marches, and according to one source, they have since done so.
There has been consternation in the capital’s classical music scene as a result. However, and in line with the long history of El Sistema, so far no employee has come forward to make a public declaration or denunciation. The levels of pressure and fear are high, and 40 years of top-down orchestration and strict control by founder José Antonio Abreu, who believes in the orchestra as a school of social discipline, have left musicians without a political voice or a capacity to self-organize.
Read on here.