More abuse tales seep out from Venezuela’s murky Sistema

More abuse tales seep out from Venezuela’s murky Sistema


norman lebrecht

July 02, 2021

A report in the Caracas Chronicles details further claims of systemic sexual abuse of children by their music teachers.

With this second oboe teacher at El Sistema, what Lisa calls “a plot of manipulations” began. This man dedicated himself to get close to her family to establish the idea that Lisa’s fulfillment as a musician depended on a whole education as an artist, not only as an oboe player. When Lisa had the conditions to enter the youth orchestra according to El Sistema standards, the teacher argued that she wasn’t ready and she needed to keep studying with him. … She was taken to a world that only the teacher could control. “For me, that made no sense and it was unfair. But it meant that I was still the main oboist in my old children’s orchestra, too.”

… the physical contact escalated. The excuse was always the same: Lisa needed to experience things, “to make contact with my inner world and find a better sound for my instrument.” He started to touch her more, to rub against her while he read poetry to her in her room, and as Lisa wrote in her blog, “he appropriated the beginning of my sexuality.”

Read on here.



  • CarlD says:

    So now we’re labeling La Sistema “murky”?? These sorts of stories about controlling music teachers aren’t hard to find anywhere, in any country, in any music school, best I can tell.

    • HR says:

      So now we’re dismissing “these sorts of stories” because they’re pervasive? Good to know we’ve moved from “it didn’t happen; all women are liars,” to “it was consensual,” to “it doesn’t matter because it happens a lot.”

  • CarlD says:

    Doh … I mean El Sistema. My Duolingo lessons can be confusing LOL.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Where the hell are the parents?

    • Ericn says:

      Often they are poor and uneducated, and live in other cities or villages. They are happy that their children have the opportunity to be under the protection of El Sistema in the big city…. they just don’t know what is going on. Playing in an El Sistema Orchestra is seen as the way out of poverty.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, that’s in a third world country. And I’m sorry for them, of course. But often being more means that you also need to be extra vigilant about predators.

        What about in the USA and other developed nations where this stuff is also rife?

  • beefabuhlous says:

    The Chavistas have been in explicit, exclusive control of Venezuela for over 20 years…
    Chavez, Maduro and Co. get to OWN this generational catastrophe that they’ve caused alongside their Cuban murder kleptocracy protectors.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s hideous, all of it. And yet I know useful idiots who admire Chavez because he stood up to Bush!! Yes, and this from a High School Principal!! I’m afraid I told him he couldn’t remain 17 indefinitely.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Abuse in El Sistema is not only sexual. Abuse is having players rehearse for over 10 hours a day (I gave lessons to young Venezuelan violinists who explained me that, as a punishment for poor performances or in preparation for tours, they were told that the rehearsal would last until the conductor said so); abuse is discriminating those who decide to study abroad; abuse is not allowing people to grow freely as artists by controlling what, who, and when… for players in El Sistema, It becomes everything, a family, and if they leave for whatever reason they are OUT and have nothing, no support, and have difficulties finding music jobs in a country where El Sistema is everything and everywhere.

    I also encountered that El Sistema players often are very experienced in orchestra, understand how to work in orchestra, and know the orchestral repertoire. At the same time they often don’t know the solo and chamber repertoire, don’t develope music reading skills at the same level; and lack a good music theory and history knowledge foundation.

    El Sistema causes admiration for its social success (not for the artistic, as some people like to think), but there is a very dark side in it.