Dudamel to Venezuela: It is time to listen to the people. Enough is enough.

Dudamel to Venezuela: It is time to listen to the people. Enough is enough.


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2017

The conductor has issued his strongest statement yet in the wake of continuing violence in Venezuela, violence that has now claimed the life of a young El Sistema musician.

Gustavo Dudamel makes it clear that his words are aimed at the Maduro government. And he puts the name of the murdered Sistema player at the head of his post. Here’s what he says:



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

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

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

‘I urgently call on the President of the Republic and the national government to rectify and listen to the voice of the Venezuelan people. Times cannot be defined by the blood of our people. We owe our youth a hopeful world, a country where we can walk freely in dissent, in respect, in tolerance, in dialogue and in which dreams have room to build the Venezuela we all yearn for.

‘It is time to listen to the people: Enough is enough. –Gustavo Dudamel’

UPDATE: Furious reactions to Dudamel’s statement.

‘Mi vida entera la he dedicado a la música y al arte como forma de transformar las sociedades. Levanto mi voz en contra de la violencia y la represión. Nada puede justificar el derramamiento de sangre. Ya basta de desatender el justo clamor de un pueblo sofocado por una intolerable crisis. Históricamente el pueblo venezolano ha sido un pueblo luchador pero jamás violento.

Para que la democracia sea sana debe haber respeto y entendimiento verdadero. La democracia no puede estar construida a la medida de un gobierno particular porque dejaría de ser democracia. El ejercicio democrático implica escuchar la voz de la mayoría, como baluarte último de la verdad social. Ninguna ideología puede ir más allá del bien común. La política se debe hacer desde la consciencia y en el más absoluto respeto a la constitucionalidad, adaptándose a una sociedad joven que, como la venezolana, tiene el derecho a reinventarse y rehacerse en el sano e inobjetable contrapeso democrático.

Los venezolanos están desesperados por su derecho inalienable al bienestar y a la satisfacción de sus más básicas necesidades. Las únicas armas que se le puede entregar a un pueblo son las herramientas para forjar su porvenir: instrumentos musicales, pinceles, libros; en fin, los más altos valores del espíritu humano: el bien, la verdad y la belleza.

Hago un llamado urgente al Presidente de la República y al gobierno nacional a que se rectifique y escuche la voz del pueblo venezolano. Los tiempos no pueden estar marcados por la sangre de nuestra gente. Debemos a nuestros jóvenes un mundo esperanzador, un país en el que se pueda caminar libremente en el disentimiento, en el respeto, en la tolerancia, en el diálogo y en el que los sueños tengan cabida para construir la Venezuela que todos anhelamos.

Es el momento de escuchar a la gente: Ya basta. –Gustavo Dudamel


  • Ungeheuer says:

    What other choice does he have? This is just another opportunity for him and his handlers to flex some PR muscle. That’s all. They’ll be back at their same old same old by this afternoon.

    • Derek says:

      Usually, I do not comment on others views but you do seem to have a cynical and miserable outlook on life.
      Isn’t it possible that the statement was made with good intention and genuine concern?

      • Bruce says:

        “Isn’t it possible that the statement was made with good intention and genuine concern?”

        No. Publicity is the only possible reason any famous person can have for any action.

        (Also, if they don’t perform the action soon enough, it is worthless.)

        • Derek says:

          “No, Publicity is the only possible reason any famous person can have for any action”

          I am sorry Bruce but that statement has no foundation and is not supported by the facts in so many other cases! Give credit to the “famous” people who have conscience and beliefs.

          • Max Grimm says:

            While I can’t be certain, I believe Bruce was being sarcastic.

          • Derek says:

            Max, you may be right!

            If that is the case I apologise to Bruce (and all) for being so dim!

          • Bruce says:

            Yes, I was being sarcastic. Not really trying to be cute — it’s just the way my mind works. I’m used to people missing it now & then (or catching it & not being amused). No offense taken.

            There’s a thing called Poe’s Law, which basically says that no matter how outrageous a statement you try to make, someone will think you’re serious. (I had to explain to someone once that I am not actually pro-slavery.)

      • Save the MET says:

        In this instance he’s actually correct. Dudamel has been a stooge for the Venezuelan socialist government. First for Chavez, now for the bus driver Maduro who has ruined the Country. He allowed himself to be carted out regularly like a show dog. He has only come to his current position very recently as his reputation among the people was heavily damaged due to his alliance with the government.

  • R. Craig says:

    Thanks, Derek. Dudamel is one of the most visible faces in Classical music on the planet. He doesn’t need the free P.R. As a Venezuelan, and the most famous product of El Sistema,
    I believe he was genuinely shaken by the death of a fellow Sistema member. He could, instead, look to the example of Netrebko and Gergiev, who support their repressive government. Instead, he had the courage to speak out. Venezuela has been on a downward slope for a long time now, as Chavez let to Maduro. It’s about time.

  • Julien says:

    Better late than never.
    Gabriela Montero didn’t wait so many years, didn’t wait a viola player was killed.
    El sistema is historically very closed to the power, but very, very late for Dudamel.

  • V.Lind says:

    I was wondering what Montero and McElroy would have to say about this. Ungeheuer has given them a script.

    It’s a good statement of explicit criticism of those who have supported him over the years. What do you want him to do? He’s a musician.

  • enemigopublico says:

    Bullshit PR game. His advisors tested the water last week with a wishy-washy statement, and he was taken apart by the Venezuelan public. So now he’s trying a stronger update. All about the global Brand Dudamel. Nothing about Venezuelan politics.

    If he cared about Venezuelans dying in the streets, he would have said this three years ago.

  • Sue says:

    I know of no dictator who ever took advice from a conductor and an orchestra.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    One conductor’s opinion won’t end a dictatorship but if this can be the start of or an addition to the voices of the leaders of Venezuelan society making clear that the current regime should leave, then it will be useful.

    Eventually the rulers will realize their position is “untenable”, grab the gold, and get out.

  • M2N2K says:

    Better late than never.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Wow, I am even thinking of keeping my Dudamel / VPO ticket which I purchased as a part of the subscription and which I was going to give away due to what I perceieved to be his support of Maduro. (Plus, to be honest, I was only lukewarm to his musicmaking the few times that I heard him, either live or on broadcasts.)

  • Sue says:

    Several years ago a colleague in teaching, the Deputy Principal, said to me over lunch, “You know, Chavez doesn’t like George Bush”. Yes, he had a straight face!! When I commented on this to another colleague some days later he said, “How old is he again? 17?”. It’s incredible that there are still tired old lefties out there who think dictatorship is good!! More than you would realize, actually.