In defense of Dudamel

Musician, not a politician

(This post is going to get me in deeper doodoo than I already am with some friends, but here goes)

Gustavo Dudamel, the brilliant Venezuelan conductor and current Musical Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is as close we get to a Venezuelan superstar. A musical prodigy, he is the poster boy for El Sistema, the nationwide system of youth orchestras that nurtured his talents.

He has also become a highly controversial figure as of late.

You see, Dudamel has chosen to lend his musical talents for many of the Revolution’s landmark events. For example, there he is, directing the orchestra to celebrate the closure of RCTV. There he is, accompanying Sean Penn to view Hugo Chávez’s coffin. And there he was a few nights ago, conducting for Nicolás Maduro while students were being massacred on the streets of the capital.

To my knowledge, Dudamel has never actually publicly defended the Revolution. He has not given speeches at political rallies, and he has not publicly insulted the opposition as fascist goons. Perhaps I’m wrong and he has. In any case, it’s irrelevant.

Dudamel has a right to be a chavista. He is entitled to play for Maduro. Mourning Chávez is his privilege. Criticizing him for it is wrong.

I deeply admire Gabriela Montero, the bold Venezuelan pianist who has unabashedly brought Dudamel and his mentor, José Antonio Abreu, to task for going along just to get along. “No more excuses,” she says in an open letter, one I found tame next to some of the stuff other people are saying about Dudamel. He has responded in an elegant manner.

Many think Dudamel is simply playing the part of loyal chavista in order to preserve government funds for El Sistema. One might be tempted to think that the thousands of kids that benefit from the program are reason enough to suck it up and don a red beret, if that is what is required. If that were the case, his actions would be justified.

But what if he does it out of conviction? What if he really thinks chavismo is better than the alternatives?

Dudamel has no more of a duty to heed to our points of view than anyone else. And just like we wouldn’t want chavistas to force a political position down our throats, so too should Dudamel enjoy the privilege of freedom to support the cause he might think is better.

This is not Leni Riefenstahl or Heidegger we are talking about, because as bad as chavismo is, it doesn’t compare to the horrors of Nazi Germany. Dudamel cannot be compared to Wagner, either, because he has not expressed incendiary views comparable to those of the late German.

This is just a guy playing for his President, someone he likes very much. As sickening as it may be to us, he has a right to swirl his baton in support of his favorite cause, and we must defend that right. Those are the rights we should be fighting for.

Dudamel is not a criminal, and he is not a goon. He is simply wrong. He doesn’t deserve our reproach.

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  1. Thanks for this perspective… I thought he was just doing it in favor of El Sistema, but you may be right and he is really supporting the regime. That places him in my intelligent-but-incomprehensible-people list.

  2. I am humbleed by this post. You have achieved something that I haven´t seen very often: you have changed my mind. In my mind I am going “I was wrong, you are right, I should´ve known better”.

    Thanks for that. Cheers!

      • I am sorry Juan a whole bunch of muddled thinking it is you who is misrepresenting Gabriela’s open letter in my view. She also has the right to express her views. I did not read in her letter GD or Abreu being called goons. Other people may have but that is a separate issue.

      • “as chavismo is, it doesn’t compare to the horrors of Nazi Germany”. Interesting phrase. Why don’t you go and tell it personally to the parents of Bassil Da Costa and Robert Redman (just to get started). Then you can continue your quest and tell the same to Simonovis. I’m sure once you tell him, he’ll feel much better and, in fact, may request to continue unjustly jailed while slowly dying. Or you can comfortably send them a note from Santiago de Chile so that you don’t even have to take a look at their faces.

        • Mehmet, obviously for the individuals touched by the violence and injustice instigated by chavismo, their situation is as bad as any other individual victim of Nazi Germany. But that does not mean that you can honestly compare the Chavez and Maduro governments with the Nazis that actively executed 5.9 million Jews, 2-3 million Soviet prisoners of war, 1.8-2 million ethnic Poles, 220,000-1,500,000 Romani and between 300,000 to 500,000 other people including disabled, freemasons, Slovenes, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses and Spanish republicans (and this does not include the millions of military and civilians killed in combat operations during the war the nazis started). Probably everybody posting here believes Maduro is hurting Venezuela and the country would be a million times better off without him. But exaggerating and comparing the chavistas with the nazis only hurts the credibility of those of us that oppose Maduro and his band of thugs.

          • The comparison is not necessarily on the numbers Juan Francisco but in the quality and intent in their actions. Call them “vocational nazis” if you prefer a more politically-correct term but their true (and common) nature remains the same. If we were to go simply by a mathematical count, even a mass murderer like Pinochet would pale to Adolf Hitler.

            In terms of the credibility of the Venezuelan opposition your attention towards me is, at least, misdirected. If I were you I’d be more concerned about the applauses to Antonio Pardo, the sole Venezuelan Olympic “athlete” in Sochi (dig deeper), about the opposition people that love to mingle with “bolichicos”, about opposition leaders that continue to do very very lucrative deals with PDVSA or about the thousands of middle and high-class Venezuelans that knowingly continue to milk the foreign exchange system in detriment of the rest of Venezuelans under the very criollo argument of “Si no lo agarro yo lo va a agarrar otro”.

            Focus on what matters.

        • That’s right. You would have to live sometime in Venezuela, live through the violence we everyday fear. The closing of enterprises, the economical crisis caused by the corruption of the government. The political presidaries locked up for almost a decade. Young people do not have a future, there are no jobs, there is no hope. How can he play in the closing of a TV channel, in a show going on in parallel with the killing of students. I used to admire him. I feel ashamed for him now.

        • Well said.. how many more dead people Venezuela needs so the writer will stop to believe that in Venezuela is much better than with the nazis??
          Dudamel can be as Chavist as he wants, but not realizing how badly venezuelans are suffering its just unacceptable!

  3. Regardless of your political prederence, playing music, no matter how spirit-lifting it maybe, while people are killed is heartless and inhuman. If he chooses to side with the chavismo, good for him. He better just watch how far he goes with his selective blindness towards what is really going on in the country.

    • What about Beyonce singing to Obama while drones kill innocent Pakistanis? I mean, if we’re gonna go down this route…

          • Would that include Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, who killed a few of the Nazi thugs that were exterminating them?

            Would that include Allied soldiers who killed the German soldiers that upheld the Nazi state?

            Would that include U.S. and allied soldiers who have killed Taliban fighters serving a movement that has murdered tens of thousands of Afghan and Pakistani civilians?

            Would it include my father and his comrades of the Mighty Eighth who dropped hundreds of tons of bombs around the Fuhrerbunker complex in central Berlin?

            It is quite likely that “innocent German civilians” died in those raids. They died for the same reason that “innocent Pakistani civilians” have been killed in drone strikes: because the murderous criminals who are the intended targets of the attacks hide among civilians, and because that civilian population largely supports and defends those criminals.

            The U.S. did not initiate violence against the Taliban and its Al-Qaida cronies; they attacked the U.S. And they attacked those Afghans who would not submit to their tyranny in the name of Islam.

            No one has initiated violence against the chavernment. The killings by their henchmen are murder, not acts of war.

          • Exactly. I am torn on this one too, it’s bit of a tricky one. I have never heard Dudamel openly support chavismo or crazily demonize the opposition. Still, I don’t quite get the point of your post. You say it is Dudamel’s right to prefer Chavismo than the alternative, and to express his perference by participating in official acts, etc. Well, it might be his *right* to do that, in the sense that no one can force him not to express that preference, but that doesn’t mean his preference is morally sound, and therefore verbally codemning his behavior is the morally appropriate thing to do, just like it is morally appropriate to condemn anyone who expresses a preference for any regime/group/person/behavior/entity that systematically violates basic human rights to whatever degree. In my view, it is quite possible that Abreu (and for extension Dudamel) knows he is operating within an inherently statist and inmoral system where he will have to strike a bargain with the devil and suck it up to state power so that he can continue carrying out his life’s project and saving the lives of thousands of children from falling into an abyss of poverty, violence and meaninglessness, but that does not mean one should not be clear about the inherent inmorality of the suking-it-up act itself.

        • So Rory, the fact that drones are being used to kill innocent people, is of no concern to you? or the fact that this program had managed to kill more innocent people than actual terrorists, creating an even more anti-american resentment, is of no concern to you. Ironically a drone program conducted by an awarded Peace Nobel Prize.

          I’m all for hunting down terrorists and the likes, but is this the correct way?

          But I digress, you may be right that the comparison may not apply, but then how about the IRS? Are you Venezuelan? Remember how Hugo Chavez started using his infamous Tascon list, and how his government evolved to a full scale dictatorship, because people used to say “No vale yo no creo, no estamos en Cuba”, I swear to God, every time I heard that phrase my blood started to boil.

          And here we are, probably another group of Venezuelan people living overseas who are not really capable of recognizing how dictatorship starts, by wittingly or unwittingly letting little acts of tyranny and suppression of civil rights to go unpunished, instead we vote for them.

        • That’s true. At least Dudamel doesn’t fundraise for Maduro, nor has he come out and clearly endorsed him or his policies.

          • Juan: Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres… Sound familiar? “Killing people is always wrong” you wrote. Exactly. That’s why Gabriela’s letter is so timely and precise. You might want to remember the “colaboracionistas” of nazi Gemany and occupied France. Great intellectuals and artists that have been doomed in history for their “ni-ni” position before nationalsocialism. Martin Luther King summarized it wisely: “There comes a moment when silence is treason”. Reasonably enough, one doesn´t object to Gustavo´s political preferences, but as you said “killing people is always wrong”, so a leading, Venezuelan world-known artist like him should take a stand from whatever personal position he may be in and speak out against that. Otherwise you would have to write “killing SOME people may be right..”.

          • “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres…” Empresas Polar donated the costs of the Simon Bolivar Hall in El Sistema’s Center for Social Action through Music in Caracas. Carlos Cruz Diez, who everybody knows wants nothing to do with chavismo, donated the design for the seats in the hall. Henrique Capriles Radonski, as governor of Miranda, has allocated millions of BsF for the nucleos in Guarenas and Guatire. So I guess we can accuse al of them of being chavistas for hanging out with Abreu and Dudamel? A veces algunos opositores quieren ser más papistas que el Papa.

          • If you make a donation of goods or services it is considered a taxable event in most jurisdictions as it is conferring a gratuitous economic benefit on the person who receives it. If you confer a gratuitous economic benefit on someone isn’t that a form of fundraising? It definitely provides a monetary saving to the recipient, is it not the case? Re: the “clear endorsement” threshold, it is setting a very low standard for human kind. It is as if you were witness to a rape of a woman and then right after the woman is raped you go for drinks with the perpetrator and upon being questioned by police you simply state: I was not an accomplice nor did I provide encouragement, therefore I am definitely not judicially accountable and am also unaccountable from a moral point of view.

      • Juan, just to emphasize my comment below, well, of course it is morally condenable for Beyonce to sing to Obama while he kills innocent people of whatever nationality anywhere in the world. And yes, I encourage you to go down that route, because then you would perhaps realize that Obama, sleek and well dressed and highly educated and professional as he is, falls into the same moral category as his much less sofisticated chavista counterparts. The fundamental thinig, in my view, is to realize that the state as an institution, anywhere and always, overwhelmingly skews the incentives of those who operate within it towards agression. NOw, because we all have to put up with living in a statist society for the time being, we have no choice but to genuflect to political power to some degree or otherwise risk not being able to put food on our tables. I don’t think Beyonce would have risked putting food on her family’s table if she would have decided to not lend herself to publicly support Obama so openly of course, so I don’t see why it is so crazy to condemn her behavior. The case for Dudamel, as I explain below, is a bit more complicated though…

    • Misguided comment. He participated in something to which he committed. If at the same time at another place outside of his knowledge bad things were happening, it has nothing to do with him participating at an event.

      • It was not outside of his knowledge, he knew what was happening and so did everybody else and they went ahead with the event anyway. Even if he was committed, he could have respectfully bowed out in lieu of the situation and still keep his convictions and beliefs intact, but he didn’t.

  4. Dudamel may not be a criminal and he has a right to live his life according to his conviction but that does not make him a good person, or even a even a good citizen.

    I know people who know him well on a personal basis, and they tell me he is not a Chavista….he is however VERY interested in his own career,just like so many other common people who do not like Chavez but are making a mint off of speculation.

    I don’t like Dudamel’s bombastic musical style either…I much prefer our local conductor:

    There is also a very good one in Germany as well.

    It is my personal taste to prefer people who stand up to tyranny, whether it be on the level of Hitler or not.

    I do not admire Dudamel.My requisite for admiration is for that person to have integrity, and I do not see that in him.

    He is a master of the politically correct.

  5. Nationaly and internationaly he has done great things for classical music on a broad base. Young Venezuelan musicians have benefited through the system. It is about the only government expenditure that I think is well spent. He is entitled to his political views.

  6. Forgive me if I come off as radical but at this point, not everyone aligned with what Maduro/Cabello are doing should be given a free pass just because “everyone can have their own political conviction.”

    I’ll accept that for the genuine, non-opportunistic chavistas, the poor, those who still have true faith that the regime is looking out for their well being and believe in “Chavez’ legacy.”

    Not from the Servandos, Florentinos, Roque Valeros and Dudamels who know the grass is greener on the other side (where they spend most their time) and are oblivious (and sometimes cynical) to the crisis that’ll soon take its toll on everyone.

    • I caught a lot of flak a few years ago because I said that anyone still calling themselves a chavista had to be a) Ignorant/uneducated or b) benefiting financially from turning a blind eye to the regime’s abuses. I believe I was right then, and even more so now. Dudamel included.

      • Hating half of your country is not how we’re going to make progress. Think about it, we can use Dudamel to *practice* tolerance! It’s easy with him, the guy is just so damn talented.

          • How is he benefitting financially other than having a job? Do you think he makes most of his livelihood from directing the Simon Bolivar Orchestra or the Los Angeles Phillarmonic????

          • What movie? Is it an obvius traffic of influence or does she have merits for the movie?

            Like I said… if he’s corrupt, I’d condemn him for that. But not just for being Chavista.

        • I never said hate, Juan. But while group A may get tolerance and understanding (condescending though that may sound), group B must be held accountable for their action or lack thereof.

      • Many (if not most) in group a) are also willfully turning a blind eye to the regime’s abuses. They do it not because of financial reward but because they are in someway emotionally invested with “la revolución” and can’t bear to face its ugly side.

  7. In Diapason, a french classical music magazine (January 2014).

    Even if it means authorizing the political exploitation? The concerts of tribute to Hugo Chavez before and after his death given under your direction by the SBO aroused the debate…

    G.D.: Sistema is the symbol of the country, admired and supported by all. Its financing depends on the State, there is thus nothing illogical the Bolivar Orchestra, of which it being the flagship, occurs in official circumstances. As you know, its foundation precedes by fifteen years the election of president Chavez. But this one – That he rests in peace!-, provided an ardent support to it. Upon his arrival in the power, El Sistema touched forty thousand children and teenagers, they are five hundred thousand today! We set the goal of the million with the support of the government. This massification allows to cross a new qualitative threshold. Then, yes, I assume completely the testimony of my recognition. Because what is happening in Venezuela is something supernatural, an example for the world, as an explosion of the art and the thought.

  8. It’s simple, you don’t support criminals, if you do, then you become an accomplice of them. He knows what the government is doing (KILLING PEOPLE IN THE STREET). If you aren’t against the murder of innocents… Well… That says a loooooot about him. That’s my point, you CAN’T support criminals.

    • Supporting criminals makes you an accomplice? Where did you study law, Kim-Jong Il University? In North Korea, when someone defects they put their family in a concentration camp. I’ll call it the “Victoria Law” from now on.

      • Well, harboring a criminal is a crime… aiding and abetting – serious stuff!!

        Problem comes down to distinguishing between government employees operating within accepted conventions of law and order, and those premeditatively violating those norms.

        Mind you, Dudamel is not a government employee. So he is free to choose to associate with Maduro and company in a way a government clerk would not be.

        So yes, if you believe Dudamel is purposely backing criminal acts by the government then he would be guilty as charged. Which is not what I think he has done by the way. His “crime” might be not realizing what slimeballs the chavista leaders are while allowing himself to be manipulated in exchange for a perceived benefit. Dudamel’s high profile makes his role fuzzy. If he is used as posterboy in propaganda efforts by the government to clean up its image, his situation becomes a little more like the marlboro man’s (rip). Wait until he discovers chavismo kills.

  9. I disagree with you. I am more than aware of the differences between Nazism and Chavismo. It’s about orders. But it is also incredibly naif, I would say even irresponsible to then say that because Nazism was such a terrible thing, we should minimize the damage Chavismo is doing.

    I have always rolled my eyes when I hear people discussing stuff like “how worse was Hitler than Stalin?”. It’s just pointless, useless to compare these creatures for each one stands by its own weight.

    And even minor evils also stand by their own weight and stench.

    Chavismo is not a democratic entity we are dealing with here.
    Juan, we are not talking about Republicans versus Democrats or PP, PSOE, IU, we are not talking about CDU/CSU, SPD, Ecologists.

    It is much more akin to the system Pinochet had. If Chavismo hasn’t thrown 3000 people out of a helicopter and into the sea it is not because its leaders have higher ethical standards than Pinochetismo. They have a lot of blood in their hands since their leaders killed a lot of innocent people in 1992. They have been responsible for many more deaths and I am not even talking about the debts due to absolute negligence in tackling crime.

    If I were in Russia now – and Putin did not get to power by firstly killing hundreds of people – and I were a reknown artist I would write the same letter Gabriela wrote to any other artist who were apologetic of Putin. And Putin, believe me – I know what I am talking about-, hasn’t been as destructive to Russia as Chavismo to Venezuela. Right now there is less of a rule of law in Venezuela as there is in Russia.

    It is also very curious how you call Dudamel “brilliant” whereas Montero is just bold.
    To me and I think to others she is by far more creative and more of a brilliant person than a director, who are more of a show than anything else. I bet without his smiles and curly hair he would be less of a star.

  10. There are those whose acts are based on conviction but some of their convictions are so extreme they trump the basic tenants of fairness, democratic process, lawfulness, honesty, and even humanity! One major flaw in democracy is the need by some to win elections by tampering with and undermining the democratic process to insure they win and remain in power. Then there are also those whose convictions give them blind eyes to those abuses and help lead those in power down the road to tyranny.

  11. Fair POV. And very sensible post.
    But let’s admit… Dudamel could have, in a very elegant way, turned down the invitation this time.
    El horno no está pa’ bollos. And as a public figure (artist or not) you gotta have a minimum of common sense.
    The only thing I found a little offensive in your article though is the attempt to compare Dudamel with Wagner.
    The guy is talented, yes. But Wagner… Wagner he ain’t.
    Anyway, let’s wait for the Valkyries to descend upon Venezuela and save us all.

  12. Eventually all Chavista supporters will need forgiveness. I am ready.

    However, it will be damn near impossible to forgive the leaders who have stolen so much that the whole country hurt, who have lied so others would suffer, who supported tyranny in other parts of the world causing more suffering, and who destroyed Venezuela.

  13. I disagree! He is of course entitled to his own opinion and he’s free to have one and it should be respected, but it is not his personal convictions what is in question here. It’s his ACTIONS, oblivious or not while Venezuelans were being murdered in the streets.Venezuelans in Venezuela were murdered and the music and the party carried on in PARALLEL to what was happening without a care in the world. THAT is what is enfuriating and what enrages people, not whether or not he genuinely believes in the “revolucion” , that’s his prerogative.

  14. No, Chavismo is “just” Pinochetismo of the XXI century with “only” several hundred murdered people.
    Still, Dudamel reminds me very strongly of the main character in Klaus Mann’s book Mephisto.
    And Mann wrote that book between 1935 and early 1936, mind.

  15. I disagree. I do not blame him for being a chavista, I’m blame him for being an idiot.
    He has been given the extremely rare privilege to be admired by one side as much as by the other, and he consciously has chosen to dilapidate the extremely rare opportunity to unite Venezuelans around the one thing all of us should be proud of. Maybe he is just a chavista musical genius who is not savvy at political matters, maybe, but for me I you have been given the chance to flight above the mud of partisan politics and you CHOOSE to not take it, you are an idiot and it does not have anything to do with being chavista or not

    • Exactly. He could really be a factor of union, reconciliation and moderation. He chooses not to be.
      Why? Maybe he honestly does not know how to do that; maybe he is just as rojo rojito as you can be.

    • he’s a brilliant idiot just like Carlos Santana who praises Che Guevara. Carlos got an earful a while ago and have not heard or seen him wearing Che shirts lately. Musicians should not get involved in politics and Dudamel is very involved. Just because he does not say so does not mean so. His actions define him.

  16. We can respect the person in all other dimensions of his life and admire his musical talents , but I can have no respect for his purported sympathies for the regime and its idolatries , they are at best naive and at worst evidence of a gross lack of intelectual lucidity or intelligence . If we quietly goes along because of his ambition or to help a non political cause he is very identified with that might mitigate things but respect is something I reserve for things that deserve it . Chavismo deserves no respect at most forgiveness .

  17. Sorry Juan, I just don’t buy it. Being for repression, for violations of human rights, for censorship, for corruption is despicable, it is not a political position that I can respect or even come close to sympathize with. If Dudamel admires all of that in Chavismo, he should be taken to task over and over and over.

    And if he is doing it for the good of the “Sistema” he is morally corrupt.


  18. I utterly disagree with you Juan.
    A government that funds paramilitary groups, that supports (because every Venezuelan know this) the killing of students, that shuts down television channels at will, that taps phones on opposition leaders, that does not recognizes the other half of the country…what, Godgiven has to start killing Jews so we can make them comparable to Nazis? We have to wait until Maduro sends people to concentration camps in order for us to properly criticize Dudamel?
    Someone like him, that has visited other countries, that has enjoyed true freedom, and learned about the beauty one of the most bourgeois forms of art; cannot be that much of an idiot.
    Even one of his bodyguards got killed a few months back….are you telling me that he has not realized that an orchestra director in Berlin does not require a bodyguard?
    He is actually a collaborator of a government that sinks the country.., why should we defend him?

  19. Dudamel is NOT assuming a position of peace and union. I wish that was true.
    He is reinforcing the perception, so common abroad, that things are really not that bad, that chavistas are just working for the poor and disenfranchised, and that all the protests and political turmoil is caused by a bunch of racist, right-wing loonies fanatically bent on defending absurd privileges.
    I am surprised you do not see it…

  20. I’ll give you Dudamel; you make a fair point. He might be ideologically inclined to accept the government: it is truly a matter of perspective.

    But, what about Abreu? He has more political experience, and he’s also made statements regarding the recent past that seem disingenuous.

  21. Up until Wednesday I was a true admirer and defender of Dudamel’s talent and right to his own convictions, what I cannot applaud and condemn is that he “celebrates” the violation of rights, and the violent repression of this regime. It was heartbreaking to watch him “smile and mamboe” as young students were being attacked by official gangs and armed forces.
    As far as I am concerned El Sistema belongs to all Venezuelans, not just to the government or the PSUV. Sometimes people tend to forget that it is NOT the product or the idea of a chavista program or mission, it was born and raised during those preceeding, and now qualified as “dreadful”, 30 years of democracy… I personally supported El Sistema for different non government projects, I personally raised funds for them and I personally heard Dudamel’s mentor Maestro Abreu say “Chavez is a clown but since El Sistema is above and beyond him I will play along”, which for many might be justified and mean that he is a great political animal, to me, that he impersonates the best definition of hypocrisy. Ironically his position does not undermine my admiration for the result of his vision nor for all the hard work he has undoubtly poured into it. I truly believe that El Sistema and all it encompasses, is a Master Piece and I am very glad that it hasn’t fallen through the cracks during this regime, I only regret that to ensure its survival, the main charachters have lost all trace of dignity. Sure, Dudamel has a right to his own convictions, but then again, he should be more consistent, living in the Hollywood hills like a true capitalist, earning his well deserved seven figure dollar salary directing for and mingling with the Cream of the Empire, is to say the least, quite contradictory. If he was a true idealist, he would be directing the Havana philharmonic instead, and only for a few CUCs…
    As of last Wednesday, in as much as I recognize his prodigious talent, I take back my admiration for Dudamel, but above all, I take back my pride to call him a Venezuelan fellow.

  22. Audrey just wrote today on how “morally bankrupt” the chavismo system is. So was Nazism. I don’t know if the PSUV will resemble in any way in the near future what National Socialism was.But if you look at Nazism at its early stage, perhaps at its mid stage, PSUV do looks a lot like it. Because it all started with a biased judicial system that was used as a tool to destroy dissidence. And you may argue that we are not yet there and that when we get there then Dudamel may find a “moral imperative” will make him outspoken. Maybe.

    You have a point tho. He has the right to do whatever he wants. He is definitely not the architect of any repression. He is merely an entertainer to those architects (and many others) and he does provide a service.

    You also have a point that the patronage to “El Sistema” is worth for him (and maybe to all of us) to be next to Maduro or Izarra in a picture. But it may be a short sighted vision. As much PR the sistema brings overseas, it may not be worth much when the cash is limited.

    One last point I would like to make is the use of the word “genius” . First, I am no music aficionado, but Joshua Bell in an interview he asked not to be called a genius. A genius is a person who has shown an incredible degree of creativity, originality and an unprecedented leap of insight. I think Dudamel is a very talented interpreter of music created by geniuses. Joshua Bell (much more humble than Dudamel) asked to be called a talented violin player, but he won’t accept to be put in the same category as Mozart, Verdi, et al.

    • Rodrigo,

      Yes but I would question the priorities of someone who would prefer to support ” El Sistema” rather than the rights of ‘common man’.

      However in all fairness, I think we can speak of genius interpreters as well as genius composers.I think Dudamel is a genius,thought he is far from my personal favorite genius.

      His sin according to my sense of justice, is in not taking a stand for what is right for everyone( Chavismo only includes the sycophants) this making him in my opinion morally inferior.

      I don’t normally like to associate art and politics, but there are exceptions, and those exceptions are when it is imperative that we have all the popular support we can get.

  23. JC can you write the same apology for Jose Vicente? He has the same rights to be chavista….In this opportunity I can’t agree with your position.

    • Jose Vicente is an active (and quite evil) agent of the regime. His responsibility is much higher than that of Dudamel’s.

  24. Dudamel is little more than a talented boliburgues. Much like other boliburgueses, he probably could care less about “revolution” or “socialism”, but plays along with the charade to advance his personal success. If it wasn’t for his sympathy for chavismo, whether real or pretend, he would have probably left Venezuela years ago to permanently perform in another country. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that Dudamel is about as innocent or impartial as Tibisay Lucena.

  25. Dudamel has every right to support the Chavez movement. So too, does Maduro, and Diosdado Cabello, because rights are distributed to everyone equally.

    But we are free to treat such support with contempt.

    The question is, to what extent does any political actor advance the Chavez political agenda? To what extent does the music and the prestige of Dudamel provide a beautiful mask for crime, for intolerance, for economic mismanagement, for corruption?

    There is little doubt that Dudamel will go down in history as a fine director. It remains to be seen whether he wants there to be a codicil: “who sold out his artistry to propitiate the Maduro dictatorship.”

      • But he is. Outside of Venezuela he is definitely a political actor, and a very important one at that.
        Again, since you live outside of Venezuela, I am surprised you are not able to see that.

      • When he meets with Maduro that has political consequences. He may think he is above politics but he is not. His prestige somehow brings luster to Maduro’s image. And Maduro’s tarnishes his.

    • You make it sound like he pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Bassil Dacosta. Let’s get some perspective here, folks.

  26. I would also like to add, that with greater power comes greater responsibility.What I say or do as a ‘firepigette nobody’ is not the same as what I do with the power that I may may not have in real life.

    We all know that a celebrity has an enormous power to influence others because of the admiration that others have for them( deserved or not).

    I think Gabriela Montero realizes that.I think Dudamel puts himself first.

    I see many ‘politically correct’ ( on the left of course) self- serving actors and actresses in the US in the same vein as Dudamel….like Sean Penn etc.
    Is anyone actually naive enough to believe that these people are less ambitious than they are conscientious?

    And by the same token, why would anyone suppose that artistic talent would in any qualify someone( or disqualify them for that matter) in opining on matters of integrity.

    History will judge him harshly I believe, when it all comes out in the wash, and it will.

  27. “What if he really thinks chavismo is better than the alternatives?” Exactly, what are the alternatives, and are we sure that they are in no way worse?

    • That is what I am beginning to wonder. Between Chavismo now, and whatever might be in the future, its like choosing between entropy and anarchy.

      I’ve seen nothing firm from the opposition as to what we be the way forward. What else is left? I think it would only be a matter of time if Maduro’s government should fall that someone within the Chavista family/army would use him as a scapegoat to mount the throne. Would a stronger chavista leader be a better alternative to the weak one now?

  28. A disgraceful point of view, I am sorry to say. Of course Dudamel has the right to be a Chavista. Of course he has a right to remain silent in the face of atrocities and abuse of power. Of course he has a right to be an invertebrate. The same right we have to criticize him and to put him in the category of Venezuelans who side with tyranny. What is there to “defend”?
    This is ethics we are dealing with. If you defend his posture you side with his posture, not with his right to have a posture.
    This piece sounds like premeditated bait, not written out of conviction but out of the desire to keep readers scandalized. I could be wrong but, if so, it would be poor journalism.

  29. You are in deep doodoo JC. In the past, I have defended Abreu & Dudamel on the assumption that their passive posture protected “el sistema” which is a good project that has been funded way before Chavez. So the bargain made sense: preserve “sistema” and we won’t be painfully anti-Chavez. Their recent actions however label them as “lacking integrity” which is the point of Gabriela’s criticism. I think that these days I can find more integrity in the pages of aporrea than in those two.

  30. I have to disagree here on the basis of the arguments that other readers are making. Supporting these criminals is not respectable, especially for a well educated and travelled guy. A cannot blame the chavista that is being blackmailed or brainwashed by the communicational hegemony into supporting the regime, but this guy?

  31. “Dudamel has never actually publicly defended the revolution.” Neither did Cisneros, but that certainly didn’t prevent him from duly jumping on the communicational hegemony bandwagon and being complacent with the RCTV shutdown. Would you also defend him?!

    • Cisneros is playing a different role. Last I checked, Dudamel wasn’t censoring the information Venezuelans have access too.

      More straw men!

  32. I don’t agree with you… “it doesn’t compare to the horrors of Nazi Germany”. Well, almost nothing certainly compares and yet, our horrors are “clear and present”. To our people and in our time.

    Again and again, we fail when we put this in terms of a political process. The problem here is about ethics.- to

    To surrender -gladly!- to the desires of another country is beyond a political problem, it’s am ethical one. That and many other “policies”of the chavismo.

    Dudamel is not only exercising his political preferences (which is certainly fine). He is also lending is well earned reputation to bunch of facist murderers, maybe the highest traitors to a country that have seen a few of them.

    Good for Ms Montero. Time to ask people about their stance and ask for a little decency

  33. Juan,

    Respectfully, I have to disagree with you. While there are people who can be forgiven through their own ignorance, Dudamel cannot be considered one of these. Even if his ignorance of the willful variety, he has to be held responsible for his actions. I think that nearly everyone here agrees regarding Sean Penn’s moral culpability in providing aid and comfort to a fascist dictatorship. Why should Dudamel be held to a different standard? Furthermore, he lives in and makes his living in the U.S. From that perspective, given the inflammatory rhetoric from the Chavistas regarding “el emperio”, by cozying up to Maduro, Dudamel is disrespecting the country that is providing his lively-hood and his home.

    As much as I admire his talent, I am afraid that he is simply another “useful idiot” for the regime who should know better.

    • What “aid and comfort” has Sean Penn provided? I fail to see this. Furthermore, Sean Penn has been a *much* more vocal defender of the Revolution than Dudamel.

      He’s a useful idiot alright. But we need to be able to see beyond that.

    • Oh the Irony!

      Criticizing Dudamel for playing music for Chavismo, with a song Bob Marley wrote in support of Mugabe’s insurgence…

      • J. Navarro, Back in the day I was an avid Marley fan – got to see him in concert live – and I have to say that you are dead wrong in your reply to Firepigette. Listen to the song – listen to the part about fighting for your rights and power struggles, and you might just get Firepigette’s point. Jah live!

        • Well yes, that’s a beautiful song about fighting for your rights and power struggles. But it is called Zimbabwe as a sign of support for the armed struggle headed by Mugabe to turn white minority ruled Rodhesia into black majority ruled Zimbabwe.

          The song came out in 1979, the year Rhodesia fell, and Marley performed it in Zimbabwe as part of of the independence celebrations in 1980.

          To be fair, I’ll say this, on behalf of Marley, though: When he released the song Mugabe hadn’t become president; when he performed it in Zimbabwe Mugabe hadn’t become the authoritarian ruler he is today; and having died in 1981, Marley didn’t have a chance to disavow the song nor Mugabe. So yes, Marley it’s not the same as Dudamel.

          But that song does have a peculiar story, doesn’t it?

  34. Unfortunately the naivety of a Venezuelan brighter tomorrow has corrupted the minds of our self proclaimed Venezuelan thinkers, or similar.
    The man is a snake.

    • Are all who support the regime snakes? Maybe we should cut all their heads off, like you do with snakes!

      Such incendiary rhetoric has no place in CC.

      • I’ve mentioned this earlier: I find the term “chavista” problematic.
        There are the naive masses, the Mitläufer (followers), the Lesser Offenders, the Offenders like activists, the Ofenders, the Major Offenders
        He is just something between a Mitläufer and a Lesser Offender, although now maybe even getting into the “activist” level. Most people who voted for Chávez are just naive masses.

        • Your German is showing,

          A thorough taxonomy of chavismo sounds useful for handing out sentences at a Nurenberg courthouse but, I think Juan is asking: how are we supposed to function as a post-chavista society when Dudamel is deemed as much a collaborationist as Cisneros? Will we all walk with a nocsaT list in our heads?

          • As I am saying, Dudamel would be simply a “follower” – not one of the masses-. Cisneros would be an offender or a major offender.
            For Dudamel, loss of popularity would do. For others, perhaps trial for corruption and more.

  35. I think this blog totally means sens for someone who is from North American (USA or Canada). Where all is about respecting each other differents points of view and being right. For latinamerican culture what Dudamel is doing is more that just his point of view or his political preference. This is about ethics, honor and respect to more than a half of the country and for those who were being killing at the same moment he was playing supporting the gouvernement. The economical crisis , violence and political corruption that the country is going throught is not a secret. Dudamel will be respected from
    More of half of Venezuela if he had the courage to continue his carrear in a honest way fighting as many of us do inside and outside the country. Without being supported by a illegitimate gouv. and corrupted money.
    In latinamerican culture honoring someone is more powerful that being right. Dudamel played for Chavez when he died and many other opportunities supporting this gouv. Opposition has no respect for him based om his own ethics and culture.

    • “I think this blog totally means sens for someone who is from North American (USA or Canada). Where all is about respecting each other differents points of view and being right.(…)This is about ethics, honor and respect to more than a half of the country…”

      Respect is for comeflores! Honor killing of Dudamel because we are latinos! #we’renotready

    • That … offended you? Humberto, think of what he *could* have said. He could have repeated the government line about economic war, coups, fascist goons. Instead, he says that he is using music to promote peace and that El Sistema must be protected. The gall of him!

      • Sorry, but that was a poor response. He did not addressed the issues that Gabriela Montero discussed. Not even one. Not a single word whatsoever to the violent discourse made constantly by chavismo, the discrimination, the repression or the crime rates. Not a frigging word.

        Yes, Dudamel is not a politician. But as a Venezuelan citizen he should be aware of ALL the things that Gabriela Montero mentions, and that our government is responsible for. But, hey who cares about a poor kid that got shot in the back by SEBIN? Let’s just keep daydreaming about that awesome Sala Dudamel that Gehry is designing!

  36. The thing is.. El sistema was not created in revolution (during Chavez’s period or Maduro’s) was created 39 years ago.. So they don’t owe anything to Chavez even less to Maduro, so no I can’t justify Dudamel and I only can criticize Jose Antonio Abreu. They are not just selling themselves they are selling our PATRIA our VENEZUELA…
    I get your point, but I don’t approve it.

    • Geayled,

      El Sistem gets funds from the government. They owe *everything* to Chávez right now. One false move and El Sistema is dead. Feel free to judge, but I would much rather have a living El Sistema than a dead one.

      • That’s just bull. First of all, EVERYBODY has heard about the System. If chavismo were to pull the plug, the backlash will be a PR disaster. Not only that, but I can bet my ass that people would run to offer financial support to them. On the other hand, there’s one obvious reason why Abreu and his protege would shut the hell up: Sala Dudamel. That’s a huge ego booster, if I ever seen one…

        • “f chavismo were to pull the plug, the backlash will be a PR disaster”

          Because chavismo would never dare shut down popular institutions like el Sistema like it did to RCTV or the Ateneo de Caracas…

          And they wouldn’t take over it by force and then have it crumble like they did with PDVSA, or the Sofia Imber Museum…

        • Please don’t bet your ass, Mr Barreda. You just might lose it. There are Sistema-inspired programs in 50+ countries, and they are all struggling to survive. If Sistema USA has been incapable of securing funding to help American children, I seriously doubt some mysterious benefactor will jump in to save the Venezuelan children. Most European Sistema programs are funded by their governments. Those governments might love organizing award ceremonies for Abreu, but they certainly have no money to give him.

          El Sistema consists of 171 initiation orchestras, 230 youth orchestras, 171 children orchestras, 15 pre-children orchestras, 190 children choirs, 364 associated choirs, 864 additional ensembles, 5 academies, 8 luthier workshops… Its operations budget for 2014 is BsF 876,353,820. And its budget for additional infrastructure projects is BsF 3,805,576,303. That sort of money can only come from the government of an oil-rich country. Hmmm maybe that’s why last month Gustavo and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra decided to perform for the Emir of Abu Dhabi?

  37. Adding to all this… Dudamel seems to be not very smart about his public displays of affection towards the Chavismo/Madurismo . He works for the LA philharmonic. Which is supported by a huge percentage of wealthy Jewish families. The regime is known for his anti-semitic rants. Not very smart, Dudi. Not smart at all.

  38. Well this time i have to strongly disagree.
    Yes he is wrong, and yes he is a criminal, and yes he is a goon.
    If you agree and support a criminal dictatorship, if you intellectually, morally and phisically stand with a criminal, that makes you one.
    The fact you are an artist does not excuse you from having a concience.
    The fact that you need money to do your work, does not excuse where you get it from.
    We all need to be held accountable for what we do, say and show.
    As long as we excuse people with no principles, they will continue to be oppressors.
    ” He, who stands for nothing……Will fall for everything.”

  39. “Dudamel is not a criminal, and he is not a goon. He is simply wrong. He doesn’t deserve our reproach.”

    Great Post JC.

    This reminds me of Humberto Fernández-Morán. A brilliant, yes brilliant, Venezuelan who invented the diamond knife, founded the Venezuelan Institute for Neurological and Brain Studies, the predecessor of the current Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), and worked for NASA on the Apollo Project, and taught at MIT, University of Chicago and the University of Stockholm.

    He also, unfortunately, accepted to serve as Education Minister for Marcos Perez Jimenez on January 1953, an appointment that only lasted for the last 10 days of that regime.

    He was exiled by the adecos and copeyanos, never to return to Venezuela.

    Is that what so many commentors on this blog want to repeat? To exile/punish Dudamel and other prominent Venezuelan artists or professionals because of their political views?

    We never learn, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of puntofijismo, MPJ, the Trienio Adeco, Post-Gomecismo, Gomecismo, Castrismo, and so on and so forth. Samsara Chronicles indeed

    • Sorry, don’t put Fernández next to Dudamel. Dudamel does not have the level of creativity Fernández had -at all-. Dudamel walks around with bodyguards in Venezuela and he repeatedly has supported a regime that is autocratic, not just for the last 10 days and not in an era where little was known as things are known and publicized now.

      • Has Dudamel served as Minister, though? No.

        Has Chavismo cracked down on dissidents harder than MPJ? No.

        Just because Dudamel isn’t a kickass scientist, doesn’t mean he’s not prominent. Don’t diminish the man’s musical talent on account of his political views

        • Navarro,

          It’s not about Zeitgeist but about media. Back in 1952-December 57 (as the government started to really succumb at the end of 57) it was infinitely easier for any regime to do anything it pleased even in Venezuela’s largest city. It was extremely hard to communicate rapidly anything back then, at best by phone – not so many lines and easily traceable.
          That’s the only real difference…well, and the fact Chavismo is really a process of natural selection of the loyal only, whereby we have got the most incompetent ever almost everywhere.

          • I’m going to interpret that as “Chavismo hasn’t cracked down on dissidents as hard as MPJ did, because it was easier for a regime in the 50s to get away with it than it is in the era of smartphones and twitter”, but I fear I’m paraphrasing way too much, so feel free to correct me if I misrepresented your response.

            That response only answers the second question (on Chavismo not being as tough as MPJ). The first question dealt with him having any responsibility for Chavismo’s deeds.

            Dudamel is not a government official, he’s not responsible for any policy decision taken on finance, crime, defense, labor, oil, mining, trade, industry, transportation, etc. He’s just a Chavista sympathizer who is the most prominent Venezuelan orchestra director ever, directs the most important orchestra in Venezuela, and has worked at many official events where the orchestra is scheduled to play, and has also been invited to some State events as a prominent Venezuelan.

            If there’s ever anything found on him regarding corruption or misuse of public money, by all means, imprison the guy. If there’s any evidence of him violating people’s rights, by all means imprison the guy. If he’s found guilty of any crime, by all means punish the guy.

            We don’t have to like the guy. We don’t have to like his political view. We don’t have to lack his music. But he’s a talented musician who has a right to work and to have his own political opinion. Being a Chavista sympathizer (or even politician) isn’t a crime and shouldn’t be a crime either.

          • Take a look at the book I mentioned earlier, by Klaus Mann. You don’t have to read the book, there is a summary in Wikipedia.
            It was written basically in 1935, not in 1939 or 1945. It was about an artist, not a politician.

          • Ok. Checked it out on Wikipedia. It’s fairly close as a theme, since it’s about an actor who flees Nazi Germany because of his Communist ties, is pardoned because of his connections, develops a successful career in Nazi Germany, while turning an eye on Nazi atrocities so his career doesn’t suffer.

            But that comparison hinges on whether Dudamel is a sellout or a true Chavista. If he’s a sellout, I wouldn’t put him in the same category of public employees who have to hide their political preference to keep their job, because he has a successful career abroad and could just cut his ties with the regime and live and work elsewhere; the comparison would be right on target.

            Therefore, If he were a sellout, instead of merely disagreeing with him, I wouldn’t respect him for his lack of conviction and/or opportunism.

            I still wouldn’t put him on the same level as people who have engaged in corruption, rights violations or other crimes, until those are proven.

            But if he isn’t a sellout, he’s just a Chavista with a proper college education. And there’s plenty of those. I don’t think they’re all condemnable solely because of their political preference.

    • Navarro
      It’s not only in Venezuela, everywhere in the world people that cozy with oppressors are not seen with good eyes by those oppressed. It’s only natural, don’t you think? The ones that need to learn from the past are the people that decide to have dealings with those types of regimes, they should know the consequences that other famous people like Fernandez Moran, Riefenstahl and others have suffered in the past for siding with the morally corrupt.

      BTW I think you meant 1958 not 1953.

  40. I also have to disagree strongly.

    Dudamal knows exactly what he is doing.

    It’s a gamble that he’s playing that the Maduro crowd will stay in power so his career & fame will continue..

    It’s a very bad bet & he’s a creep for doing it.

    Unfortunately he will fall with Maduro.

    • “It’s a gamble that he’s playing that the Maduro crowd will stay in power so his career & fame will continue”

      I don’t think so.

      Even at 6,30 VEF per USD, I don’t think his Venezuelan pay as Director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela even compares to what he’s probably earning as Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

    • Completely agree with you Island. My main worry is that if I continue to read this blog I may indeed become a Chavista.
      The kinder part of me says that this Dudamel love-in is more a social thing, an extended family type affair.

  41. Dudamel is a cynical opportunist, barely above the likes of Pastor Maldonado and, yes, Winston.

    I see much greater concerns than those non-entities.

  42. “This is not Leni Riefenstahl or Heidegger we are talking about, because as bad as chavismo is, it doesn’t compare to the horrors of Nazi Germany.”

    Chavismo is operating under the constraints of the 21st century. Cell phones, internet, ect. have changed the manner in which these repressive regimes can operate. Since there is absolutely no way that a holocaust (using say gas chambers) can long exist presently, other creative means are put on the table.
    Even a regime basically closed off from the world, Venezuela’s friend Bashar al- Assad’s, has to be careful.

    Chavismo selectively murders, for affect. On the larger scale, they have retrofitted, using the new technologies for psychological terrorism. The same sickness that pervaded Nazism, Stalinism, Fidelism, and Pinochetism, exists in Chavismo. They will do whatever they can get away with.

  43. Sorry to say this is the first article of the blog I bluntly disagree with. If he chooses to side with a criminal government, then he deserves our reproach. This is not some “other point of view” government, it is one that has chosen to be irresponsible with its citizens and deliberately attack them. Yes, he can side with them if he wants; but let’s not say it’s OK for him to side with criminals.

    • Maybe we should make a list with the names of all those that side with the criminal government! They’re all criminals, after all. And then we can actively “reproach” them by, once this nightmare is over, denying them passports, ID cards, government jobs, etc. Now… where I have heard this idea before?

      • Well, I said it was not OK to side with them, but I never talked about such extremist ideas. I did not say he deserved to be kicked out of the country, or that he has to go to jail, I’m saying he is wrong; only that he deserves the criticism. Don’t put that extremist blabber in my mouth. It’s irresponsible.

      • “we can actively “reproach” them by, once this nightmare is over, denying them passports, ID cards, government jobs, etc. Now… where I have heard this idea before?”

        It just came out of your mind I think. I’ve never heard of anyone proposing that in the opposition.
        Oh! you mean chavismo! Right! No, no, no, criticizing someone or reproaching him for having a morally dubious stance is not the same as discriminating, violating his rights or repressing him. It’s just expressing an opinion or a sentiment.

        That kind of “reductio ad absurdum” argument doesn’t help your case. No one has said that he is a criminal or that he should be persecuted. But famous people earn their public’s support, admiration and love because of their actions. They can lose it the same way. That is what is happening here.

  44. To me it is crazy how it seems that anger raised by what happened on February 12th disperses to everything and everyone that does not lives in accord to what you believe.

    And in typical Venezuelan form, most people retorts to disqualification and gossip on the subject.
    To the point of being stingy with regards to the talent that is evident.

    They are both, essentially, living of what they love, and they are both doing pretty good, thank you very much.

    But for what I can see, Gustavo does more for the people of Venezuela than Gabriela?
    He keeps playing with The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela all over the world (two concerts in the following weeks in LA).

    I imagine that in itself to be a threat to any member of the orchestra. Beside having the chance of contacting colleagues and perhaps meeting that cello player they must admire.
    It certainly gives these members and opportunity to see what is possible or perhaps an opportunity to play somewhere else.

    By playing nice and not getting into politics, both him and Abreu, seem to focus on helping kids, mostly underprivileged, to stay away from problems and show them what can become a career let alone an alternative lifestyle.
    That is admirable and it is way better that telling the world who they sympathize with.

    Gabriela on the other hand, just moves her ass from bench to bench and bitches to no end.

    Not everything has to be looked under the political crap that tortures the minds of some poor souls in this blog.

    • Jack,
      Your love Dudamel also has an ass. And he has bodyguards.
      Firstly: this Proyecto is not new. It precedes Chavismo.
      Secondly: we can actually question whether giving so much money for music alone is the best investment for raising those kids. We very much need an El Proyecto of maths and science in general and what goes into this is not going into that.
      Last but definitely not the least: this government is so corrupt and inept that by merely replacing it for something mediocre we would be able to recover more money – from Cuba, PDVSA scams of Rodriguez –
      that could be use to finance not one El Sistema but a HUNDRED. Do you get that?
      El Proyecto as it is now is peanuts compared to the damage Chavismo is doing.
      And Dudamel is an enabler.

      • I do not love Dudamel you jackass and whatever you want to say about the sistema, is perhaps the only semi-independent institution in Venezuela that works.
        By not saying anything they are enabling some people a chance to a possible different and better future.
        Them talking against the government might push to the government to replace Abreu with Izarra, and in that way sistema no more.

        • Have you talk with musicians in the system? well their are robbed, Sometimes the paying is not great, sometimes they have to sell those instrument and they have to do the line and deal scarcity…El sistema is not only SB orchestra…there are many and they are suffering everything all Venezuelans suffer

      • Dudamel could just have gone to LA, quit on the Simon Bolivar orchestra, and remain chavista. Yet he chooses to be linked to the Simon Bolivar orchestra and the kids. How is that a bad thing?

        • It’s not a bad thing on the surface. It’s what’s behind the veil. His debt to the Maestro, the building with his name, his wife’s movie financing and whatever else they said

        • It is a PR thing, he is lending his name, his fame, his image to improve the image of the government. Unfortunately for him it rubs both ways.

    • Jack you may be correct buy in my experience these folks always have their plausible deniability. In this case “seem to focus on helping kids” as in he’s doing it for the kids. He’s doing it for himself period. He has good cover but it is wearing thin

  45. A mi no me molesta que Juan defienda a Dudamel. Cada uno es libre de defender a quien le de la gana. Ahora bien, si Dudamel hace de Celestina del régimen asesino, pues que se cale las críticas, que bien se las ha ganado. Sus cualidades de jalabolas no disminuyen su talento como músico, pues uno puede hacerse preguntas sobre su calidad moral.

    • A mí me sabe a bolas Dudamel. Lo que me preocupa es que inmediatamente condenamos a cualquiera que simpatice con el régimen y que no nos detengamos a preguntarnos si eso está bien o no.

      • Yo he pensado largo y tendido sobre Dudamel, mucho antes de esta polémica. Y al principio me parecía razonable su posición y la de Abreu: callar y proteger El Sistema. Pero, y que pasa con el resto del país?

        La realidad es que el Sistema no necesita al gobierno. Todo lo contrario: el gobierno necesita al Sistema para lavarse la cara ante el mundo. Es el gobierno el que esta desesperado por algo de aprobación internacional. Si Dudamel o Abreu decidieran criticar la labor del gobierno y este decidiera castigarlos, sería una vergüenza internacional para el chavismo.

        Que Dudamel este muy ocupado con su carrera, con sus ensayos y con su vida en LA, se entiende. Pero habría que preguntarse si acaso no tiene familia o amigos en Venezuela que lo mantengan al tanto de este desastre en que estamos metidos. Para Abreu no se me ocurre excusa alguna. Acaso no lee las noticias y anda rodeado de puro chavista en su trabajo y su vida? Por que semejante nivel de ingenuidad es hasta ofensivo. Ese tipo de actitud me recuerda más bien a la de una conocida mía, muy bien enchufada en el regimen, a quien poco le importa lo que pase a su alrededor mientras pueda seguir viviendo la buena vida.

        • Señor Barreda. Con todo respeto, creo que está equivocado al decir que El Sistema no necesita al gobierno. La inmensa parte del presupuesto del Sistema viene del gobierno. Incluso el dinero que ha dado el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo tiene que ser aprobado por el gobierno venezolano. Maduro decide acabar con El Sistema y se cierran los 300+ nucleos, y a 500,000 niños y jóvenes lo único que les queda es meterse a malandros. El Sistema es quizás la única institución que el chavismo no ha logrado destruir, y a veces pareciera que la oposición está dispuesta a hacerlo por su cuenta. Algunos antichavistas parecen tener una mentalidad de “vamos a arrasar con el país para que no quede duda de que el chavismo destruyó Venezuela”. Es un poco lo que vimos cuando el paro de 2002. Esa actitud de o nos ayudas a quebrar el país o eres chavista. Por otra parte, no comparto su punto de vista de que el gobierno está desesperado por algo de aprobación internacional. Yo creo que el chavismo post-Chavez ha demostrado que no le importa para nada lo que el resto del mundo piense de él. Por otra parte, le comento que esas vergüenzas internacionales duran bien poco. Al día siguiente la comunidad internacional ya está ocupada con otra noticia. Pero sí estoy de acuerdo con usted en que Abreu ha sido terco. En Fundamusical él está rodeado de gente que es antichavista. Él no es ciego y sabe lo que sucede en el país. Y siendo tan inteligente como es, hace tiempo pudo haber manejado esta situación con mucha más mano izquierda sin necesidad de quedar como un cómplice del chavismo.

          • Gracias Juan Francisco. ¿Tienes información desde adentro? Cualquier cosa, mi email es nageljuan arroba gmail

        • El chavismo cerró RCTV y el Ateneo de Caracas, sin que le temblara la mano. Bien podría cerrar el sistema.

          O más factible todavía. Podría hacer como con PDVSA y el Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Sofia Imber. Destituye a abreu, mete a Jesse Chacon o a Pedro Carreño de nuevo jefe y lo vuelve mierda y ya.

          • Estos dilemas morales existen desde que ha existido el poder y la maldad. Inevitablemente los que se acercan al poder e ignoran su maldad terminan siendo utilizados, como tontos útiles o cómplices. Esto incluye a personas de renombre como científicos, artistas y académicos pero también a personas comunes y corrientes. Muchas veces son devorados, absorbidos y hasta corrompidos por la maquinaria del poder.

            Lógicamente, es inevitable que quien se retrata y se ríe con el opresor sea despreciado por los oprimidos. La única solución para mantener la entereza moral es mantener la distancia.

          • La segunda opción es la Mas creíble, aunque creo que seria Rizarrita quien – tristemente – se llevaría el premio.

      • Y por qué no vamos a criticar a Dudamel por apoyar a un régimen corrupto y asesino? Si él simpatiza con unos ladrones y malandros, qué debemos hacer? Lanzarle flores? Pedirle un “encore”? Dudamel está equivocado. Punto.

      • Quizas la respuesta es que en el futuro, “el sistema” deba sustentarse a si mismo y evitamos todo esto? No? Entonces el dilema del padrinazgo se mantendra por los siglos de los siglos

        • Es imposible que El Sistema se sustente a sí mismo. Sus gastos en personal, en becas para los estudiantes, en infraestructura, en instrumentos musicales y en logística son enormes. Al menos una vez por semana alguna delegación internacional visita el Centro Social de Acción Social por la Música en Caracas. Y todos los visitantes, incluso los de países del primer mundo como Estados Unidos, Inglaterra o Austria, tienen la misma reacción: reconocen que en sus países de origen es imposible crear un sistema de orquestas de la magnitud del venezolano. Hay que tener un chorro de ingresos petroleros para financiar algo como El Sistema. Esto o lo financia el Estado venezolano o desaparece.

          • El problema esencial de “El sistema” es que es demasiado grande y por ende necesita ingentes recursos que solo pueden venir del petroleo, lo cual lo hace presa tanto de la necesidad de relaciones clientelares con el estado (RRPP) como de la posibilidad de recibir menos recursos si por ejemplo bajan los ingresos petroleros. Cual es la respuesta? Prefiero sistemas pequeños y repartidos por venezuela, autonomos, donde la gente diga lo que quiera a una megaestructura atada inevitablemente a nuestro sistema de lobby-caribeño, una vez Schumpeter hablo de la destruccion creativa: algunas cosas deben desaparecer para que otras mejores aparezcan en su lugar, quizas el destino del Sistema deba ser ese.

  46. There are two kinds of respect , two ways of understanding the term , one which translates into what we can call civil or basic respect for a person for being a human being , in that sense of course the respect we owe Dudamel as a human being , moreover as an accomplished human beign , the right of allowing him the freedom to have whatever beliefs he chooses to have without being persecuted or scorned solely for his beliefs is incontestable , part of our western values . Then there is respect as the emotion whereby we hold in regard someones particular behaviour or attitude or professed values , here its a different perspective . Here we can no more feign respect than we can feign love for what a person does or believes if we find such deeds or beliefs spontaneously despicable . What mollifies my lack of respect for Dudamels purported chavista sympathies is the fact that he doenst display them , that he keeps them largely private, and that in all other respects as far as we know he is a decent person . One thing is to respect a person for what he is , taking account of all the traits of character and conduct that define his person and another to respect some trait of his character of behaviour that one finds objectionable . We can respect Neruda as a person , admire him as a poet and deplore him as a whorshiper of Stalinism all at the same time . Nerudas spousal of Stalin doesnt make him into a monster , but we cannot say we celebrate his stalinism , rather the opposite. !! Same thing for dudamel.

  47. OK guys, I have to say I was not swayed one bit by your arguments. I read a lot of ad-hominems, lots of straw men, lots of foaming at the mouth, but little that was compelling. Shape up! You can do better!

    (BTW please excuse the occasional snark – keeps things fun, no? Don’t hate me)

    • Well, I was getting thoroughly depressed reading through this comment thread and seeing it overpopulated with derangement. I’m glad you are in good humor. Can’t be nice being so accused of comeflorismo lately.

      Mis respetos.

  48. The hottest part of hell, said Martin Luther King jr, is reserved for those who, at times of moral crisis, choose to remain neutral. As it happens, former Costa Rican president (and Nobel Peace Prize-winner) Oscar Arias, quoted that in a bold and lucid statement on Venezuela this week. ( No one should dispute Gustavo Dudamel’s right to whatever political views he chooses to hold. Lending his prestige to a regime that sends gunmen onto the streets to murder students is a totally different matter. What’s he going to tell his grandchildren? ‘I didn’t know’?

  49. Not to get too technical here, but did Dudamel have any idea of what was happening in the streets while he was at the concert? If I recall correctly, no one had any real idea. It was all twitter feeds, etc. And if we are going to give him hell, should we do the same thing for all the orchestra members?

    Perhaps the media in Venezuela should ask Dudamel first about his views on hi splaying while protests were going on and deaths occurred. Let the guy have an explanation first.

    • Yeah, sure. It’s because Dudamel didn’t know…. That’s probably because the only thing that Dudamel have been reading during the last 15 years are the raving reviews on his work.

      Because although the things that transpired in Venezuela while Dudamel was directing on February 12 was circumstantial, the repression, hatred and rise on crime rates are not new.

      As Gabriela Montero pointed out: what’s the point of offering salvation through the System if they are gonna get killed by common thugs on the streets a few years later?

        • You should probably read this fragmen of Montero’s open letter:

          “Gustavo, you are right to focus your unique creative energy on the beautiful flower of music and youth, and nobody can deny that you have brought joy and rejuvenation to classical music nationally and internationally. I would be the first to congratulate you for it, but you are simply wrong to ignore the toxic oasis in which that flower stands alone, and on the brink of withering and dying, subsumed as it will be by the stench that surrounds it. When you travel abroad, you bare witness to functioning societies, to the rule of law, and to human dignity. How much more, then, should you refuse to accept the very antithesis of that dignity back home in the country we both love and cherish so deeply.”

          Nuff said…

    • “Perhaps the media in Venezuela should ask Dudamel first about his views on hi splaying while protests were going on and deaths occurred.”

      The media that was broadcasting, gossip, horoscopes, soap operas and fluff pieces during the protests? They’re hardly morally qualified to question anyone about their activities during those protests.

      It would still be a good line of questioning, but I don’t think media bosses want to go into that.

  50. Dudamel “is” a genius, thus, he can get away with the murder. It doesn`t matter if the guy supports a regime of murderers and thieves. Genius = free tickets to redemption.

    We can tolerate his political preferences, after all, if we want to rebuild this country from the ground up, some forgiveness will need to be applied upon those who believed in chavismo.

    What we can´t do is to accept his actions, such as “mamboing” just when the whole country was submerged in a bloody chaos. He should´ve, to say the least, pay some respect to the victims.

    Frankly, the guy is just an opportunist, a part time cynic, part time phylantropic one.

    PD: Nagel said “chavismo is not totalitarian”… Hell, i wonder how things would turn out if Maduro steps from bed with the wrong foot someday and decides to embrace totalitarianism. I´m 11 on concrete shoes, btw.

  51. OK… for all the supporters of the “Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres” doctrine, plus other variants of guilty by association…

    Acción Democrática and Copei are members of MUD.

    Do you think YOU should be condemned for the State killings of leftist leaders under Betancourt and Leoni? They weren’t all kosher, just so you know.

    Do you think YOU should be condemned for the closure of universities under Caldera?

    Do you think YOU should be condemned for all the corruption under RECADI and CONACOPRESA?

    Do you think YOU should be condemned for the people who died on 27F 1989?

    • Bad thinking. This is not retroactive. I think the Germans can give us a lesson.
      The party AD itself did not have as policy to commit those crimes, unlike the NSDAP.
      There were people inside AD who did commit crimes.
      They could and should be prosecuted. I am all for that. But basically most of them are dead now.
      If there are some, go ahead. The curious thing is that among those we do know who did have blood in their hands during the IV Republic, as far as I know, one is the governor of Guárico now – the planner of the Masacre del Amparo, Chacín, and another one is a deputy for the same state – Róger Cordero Lara, who was a pilot shooting and killing the extreme lefties who are now his comrades. And these guys had the chutzpah to tell people who were teenagers in Caracas at that time that they were the evil ones.

      Dudamel is supporting those guys.
      For that he is a mitläufer, a follower. That does not mean he would go to jail but I would shun him.

      • Does PSUV have a explicit mandate to commit these crimes?
        Is Dudamel a member of PSUV?

        Dudamel may just be a Chavista with a college education, who should know better but doesn’t.

        Disagree with the guy? Sure.

        Morally condemn him? Maybe, it would be a clearer cut for me if he came out and justified the crimes, which he hasn’t to my knowledge.

        Convict the guy? No way.

    • This is a pretty lousy argument. Crimes are commited by individuals, not people. Should we blame Germany by the crimes commited by Nazis? No.

      The same applies to AD, COPEI and the rest. And we are not putting the blame on El Sistema, but on Dudamel and Abreu. They made their choice and they will rip what they sow. They have helped thousands of kids, and that’s fine. But their alliances with crooks will cast a large shadow on that.

      Would you have a better opinion of an entrepreneur that launders money for the Mafia just because he donates lots of money to charity?

      • But Dudamel isn’t laundering money for the Mafia Boss, nor killing for him, nor threatening others on his behalf, nor trafficking or performing any criminal job.

        He’s just playing his music in some social events the Mafia Boss organizes, and sometimes he is invited as a guest to other events organized by the Mafia Boss, because he’s a well known musician.

        • He is helping launder the public image of the Mafia Bosses That is what celebrities are used for by the powerful tyrants when they allow themselves to be courted by them. I’m sure Dudamel and Abreu know this very well. Inevitably, though, they tarnish their own image in the process, it’s only natural it is a two way process.

          • I have to make a distinction here. There’s suckups like Winston Vallenilla (kneeling with both legs to Chavez, candidate and public tv boss; campaign singers Oscarcito, Omar Enrique and Hany Kauam; Chavista activist Roberto Mesutti, chavista-for-a-movie-role Roque Valero; failed-candidate-turned-minister El Potro; etc. These guys have attended political rallies, tweeted for the revolution, insulted opposition sympathizers and opposition leaders, applauded ill-intended government measures, justified government excess, etc.

            Can you say the same about Dudamel? With links? Has he justified government abuses explicitly? Has he benefited unduly for sponsoring the government? Has he lent his directorial skills for purposes that can’t be conceived as State related but exclusively PSUV related? Has he been a political candidate? Has he been appointed to a political position? Has he campaigned for the PSUV? Has he attacked opposition sympathizers? Has he attacked opposition leaders?

          • Yo nunca he estado de acuerdo con eso de que “la situación no está para medias tintas”, porque esa es la expresión del maniqueísmo, fuente de toda intolerancia y de la polarización que divide al país y que tanto beneficia al régimen. La realidad nunca es totalmente blanca o negra y la verdad se esconde en los matices. Por eso ese dicho de que “en la guerra la primera víctima es la verdad”.

            Respecto a Dudamel está claro que si bien no simpatiza abiertamente con el régimen, presta su imagen al mismo. ¿Por qué razón exactamente? es difícil saberlo o entenderlo, él mismo no quiere aclararlo. ¿Tiene derecho a ser chavista? Si que lo tiene. También tiene derecho a cerrar los ojos a todos los crímenes del régimen y justificar de cualquier manera su apoyo al mismo. Incluso tiene derecho a pensar que no lo está apoyando de ninguna manera si eso quiere creer.

            De la misma forma como su gran talento musical le da derecho a disfrutar de los aplausos del publico agradecido y de su merecida fama, sus desatinos políticos le dan derecho a sufrir las críticas y el desprecio de aquellos a quienes nos decepcionan sus acciones.

          • So Dudamel has been careful not show clear sympathies with “the revolution”. That to me indicates that he doesn’t really sympathize with the government but still feels somehow obligated to not shun it. I could be wrong though, it could very well be that he really sympathizes with “the revolution” but doesn’t want to voice it clearly lest he alienate even more Venezuelan supporters. ¿Who knows? The fact is that he lends his public image to the government, a corrupt criminal government, that defames, oppresses and persecutes those that oppose it.

            The correct position of any public figure that wants to remain neutral and doesn’t want to alienate people on either side is to keep his distance from any dubious, criminal or corrupt government, person or organization. He has chosen not to do that, so he suffers the consequences.

          • BTW, the obvious reason for Dudamel’s behavior is that the government holds Abreu’s life work and extraordinary creation “El Sistema” hostage, to put it somehow. It’s survival surely depends very much on Abreu & Dudamel’s courting the government. This probably has been the case with every government since Abreu conceived the project back in the 1970’s. That is why I’m not so quick to criticize Abreu, even though I think that he should have shielded Dudamel from this government.

            In Dudamel’s defense he was still a teenager when Chavez came to power and he probably couldn’t foresee how much damage his government could bring to the country, plus he had the moral obligation to support Abreu’s efforts. Dudamel is not a teenager anymore, but people don’t change their mind easily much less publicly, specially when they are so invested, emotionally and otherwise, in something. So he is not likely to change his position, but he should.

          • Ok, that’s a more sensible stand, not because we are in perfect agreement, but because it puts more perspective on where Dudamel stands compared to other public figures, and what is his comparative responsibility.

          • Vallenilla and Dudamel have behaved differently and so they should be regarded differently. Different shades of grays, not black and white categories of good and bad. Goes without saying that they are of completely different statures in terms of talents as well, an unfair comparison to be sure, for both of them.
            The point is motivations do not fully justify their negative actions and talents do not clean their blemishes. Their rights and wrongs will remain part of their legacy.

      • Furthermore, he may be honestly convinced that all those rumors of the guy being a Mafia Boss are unfounded, as he believes him to be a hard working honest businessman.

  52. Mr Nagel, you mention two things that are not true.

    1. Dudamel did not conduct the orchestra to celebrate the closure of RCTV. The Venezuelan government aired a recording of Dudamel conducting the Venezuelan anthem. This was not a live concert. It was the same national anthem video that was already being used by VTV. How does this mean that he supported the closure of RCTV? Next you’ll be saying that Karl Marx was a Chavez supporter because he was quoted by “el comandante”.

    2. You say that Dudamel conducted for Nicolás Maduro while students were being massacred on the streets of the capital. That is also not true. The conductor that led the performance at La Victoria was Christian Vasquez. The military parade and performance (which you can watch at if you can endure two hours of pro-Chavez circus) included three pieces performed by the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Aragua. All three were conducted by Vasquez. They are: “Venezuela” (12:27), “Mambo” (57:23) and “Alma Llanera” (1:59:32). It is true that Dudamel had a concert that night in Caracas ( Was it a bad choice to go ahead with that performance? Certainly. But he was not performing for Maduro. It was part of the series of concerts around the 39th anniversary of El Sistema. [That so many people seem convinced that Dudamel was conducting at La Victoria for Maduro speaks volumes about the mind set of Venezuelans!]

    That said, I do believe that Jose Antonio Abreu, Dudamel and others in El Sistema have missed plenty of opportunities to protest the authoritarianism of Chavez and Maduro. But then again, so have many other Venezuelans. Maybe you are right: they might all be chavistas (and obviously they have a right to their political opinions even if we don’t agree with them). Or maybe they are sacrificing their own reputations for the survival of a project that improves the lives of more than 500,000 children and youths across Venezuela. Maybe they’d rather not see El Sistema go the same way as Pdvsa or the museums…

    It is ironic that most antichavistas seem to be focused on Dudamel. How about they express the same outrage for the owners of the private television stations that chose to not air any footage of the protests, or the editors of Ultimas Noticias, or the military in the parade in La Victoria that shouted socialist slogans, or the police that stood by while opposition protesters were being attacked? But as always, we prefer to find a “chino de Recadi” and ignore the bigger issues.

    • Grant you point 1), a simplification on my part. Still, that’s how many people interpreted his performance. I’m sure he was aware of what the tape was being used for.

      Grant you point 2) as well, I was hazy on the details.

      Thanks! An informed reader is always welcome around here.

    • That was a very helpful comment. Look, we all have talented and wonderful friends who work for the government and therefore in some respect support the regime. Or at least, I suspect many of us do. A good chunk of the professional Venezuelan population falls into that category. The people who risk a lot by taking a stand have my admiration. It is easy for others on both sides with nothing at stake to just talk. The massive resources of this regime make it tempting even for some with more choices than others, to try to perform a fine moral tightrope act. The way things are turning on the ground, there is sure to be a moment soon when silence or diverting the conversation is just plain complicity.

  53. well… I guess that someone had to become the devil’s advocate after Quico’s exit. You certainly have a point, it’s useless to turn our anger against someone who is yet to use the chavista rethoric.

  54. Well having read through the responses it is quite clear why many Nazis found refuge in a welcoming South America. And I thought those days were over.

  55. I don’t get how many comments here are about condemning one who supports chavismo, or even just not condemning chavismo. Isn’t one of our complaints about chavismo that it is taking away our right to disagree? Shouldn’t we be fighting for their right to be “wrong”, too?

      • CDC, those responsible should be “held accountable”, but my comment is about the supporters, not the leaders. In a democracy, voters do not hold other voters accountable for their votes, precisely because to vote free of consequences for the direction of a vote is *every* voter’s right.

    • He has that right and he exercises it, so no problem there. People have a right to criticize him for it, no? Or should they be quiet and just applaud him for his music?

      • amieres, they have the right to be “wrong”, too. But from there to diminishing people’s right to choose, no, not if you’re a supporter of democracy, reason for my seeing very little learning on our side over the last 15 years. I think our side is filled with hypocrites: we are inclusive, so long as you’re not one of “them”… Yeah, right.

        • So, we shouldn’t criticize Dudamel or anyone that supports any oppressive regime?
          We don’t like but we should shut up about it?
          What is the hypocrisy again?

          You want us to be inclusive of those that support the regime? Inclusive into what? What should we include them in? In the group of people we like?
          I don’t understand what is your statement.

          • amieres, I think you are missing my point. The basis of democracy includes freedom of thought which gets implemented into freedom of vote. You may criticize Dudamel’s or anyone else’s position. What you may not do, without being undemocratic, is in any way diminish the basis of freedom of thought expressed through voting. So to answer each of your questions directly:

            1) You may criticize.
            2) You need not shut up about it.
            3) The hypocrisy is pretending to be democratic (i.e., inclusion), while purporting exclusion of all who hold a different postion.
            4) Yes, we must include, in a democracy, all others.
            5) No, not in the group of people you like, only in the group called Venezuela.
            6) My statement criticizes those who think that somehow all those who support chavismo are as criminal or to be held accountable as chavismo leaders. Take this to a limit and you get the terrorist argument that *all* citizens of USA are valid, guilty targets merely because by being a part of the USA system they are supporters of everything that results from that system. That’s the logic chavismo is using to breed hatred and violence towards any opposers. My statement criticizes anyone doing the same, regardless of which side they are on; it’s just not democratic.

          • I agree with most of what you say, except for the fact that you reply it to my comments as if I had ever proposed that Dudamel or anyone that supports the government should be denied his rights in any way. I have never done so.

            I think replies should address what the specific post is saying and not try to address others simultaneously. Nagel does this a couple of times when he used the word crime referring to Dudamel when the post he replied to never even mentioned that word. Then again Nagel likes to use hyperbole too much. Torres, you tend to be much more logical.

          • amieres, it was you who replied first to my comment, which was directed to several commenters, not to you.

            If you reread my comments, I used, “if”, and emphasized that reprehension of any criticism depended on how the statements translated to action. Even when I called many in the opposition hypocrites, I was referring to those who carry the flag of inclusion while implying that different positions are invalid.

            If your comments did not meet the criteria, then I wasn’t talking about you. Though I could have assumed that you were countering what I was saying, I did not assume, anywhere, that you, specifically were supporting the denial of anyone’s rights, though other comments have specifically proposed that we do. I think I know enough of your stance to assume nothing other than a miscommunication, to which I pointed.

  56. It is disappointing to hear this about Gustavo Dudamel. I think his response is a little disingenuous. He is an extraordinary talent, and he is being used for political ends. Respectful debate is called for, as you say.

  57. OK, fun as this debate is, I think it’s a little inconsequential to be discussing Dudamel when, yet again, students are being used for target practice in the streets of our Venezuela. So maybe we should call it a draw.

    • Agreed. How about some thought-provoking posts instead of just plain provocative ones? So far, all we’ve got are first-world-problems (Mobile phones), despechos (“good bye” and “you meddling kids”) and plain rattle-cage (ACAB or heros?, Dudamel) posts.

      I do appreciate, though, GEHA keeping track on censorship and the newspaper crisis. Emiliana’s POV are also very refreshing. I hope the new fellas hit their stride soon. As for you, Mr. Nagel, I expect something better. It’s time to raise your game…

      • The blog is lacking a real political pundit since Mr. Toro left. Probably you should let Emiliana or someone else that part and go back to more familiar subjects… I dunno, it’s just an idea…

  58. One of your best articles Juan. This just shows how most people on the opposition feel morally and intellectually superior to everyone that doesn’t agree with their views, which I think is one of the reasons why there is so much hate between sides. If I’m a chavista I hate the opposition because they are spoiled rich brats, and if I’m from the opposition I hate the chavistas because they are not as intellectually capable as me.

    • Gustavo, Your post gets my vote for the best one of this thread. You are absolutely correct regarding the downward spiral of hate! Nagel, I have often disagreed with you on many topics, but your post is right on. Much respect to you for having the courage to write what you did – you knew the reaction that you would get! And to the posters spewing venom regarding Dudamel, remember that his works helps hundred of thousands of kids who might otherwise be on the streets (to utilize a Bob Marley term) burnin’ and lootin’ your neighbourhoods.

      • Right, Pipo, because you are completely sure that that is the only or most efficient way to deal with the sustainable development of Venezuela. It is NOT.
        If you are going to get those millions of people out of poverty – for good – you need a completely different, sustainable management model – we cannot all be musicians. But probably the details are of no importance to you as long as the appearance of doing something counts.
        And the regime is destroying all the opportunities to create schemes that are much more efficient, much more sustainable than El Sistema.

      • Right, Pipo, because you are completely sure that that is the only or most efficient way to deal with the sustainable development of Venezuela. It is NOT.
        If you are going to get those millions of people out of poverty – for good – you need a completely different, sustainable management model – we cannot all be musicians. But probably the details are of no importance to you as long as the appearance of doing something counts.
        And the regime is destroying all the opportunities to create schemes that are much more efficient, much more sustainable than El Sistema.

  59. guao !!! te inmaginastes que tu articulo iba a ocasionar tanta roncha?? la verdad Juan, dijistes una cosa muy cierta, Dudamel tiene derecho a ser chavista y a tener sus afectos. Eso es así, y no reconocer esto, es no reconocer a la mitad del país que se siente identificado con este régimen. Lo que pasa Juan, es que hemos llegado a estos 15 años por la complacencia de muchos, que queriendo preservar su espacio, han echo caso omiso a cosas que no estaban bien. Ciertamente no sabemos si Dudamel lo hace por convicción o por no perder prebendas .Sin embargo cuesta un montón inmaginar que alguien tan viajado como el y que ha visto mundo (entendiendo por mundo, a una sociedad civilizada y donde funcionan las instituciones) que coquetee con este desastre. El país no esta para medias tintas, Si esa es su decisión, eso no lo hace menos talentoso musicalmente hablando, pero ojalá no lo haga por acomodado, porque lo haría muy miserable. Saludos, me encantaría que tradujeras tus artículos, “ay don andestand at all” jeme

    • Hola Maria Carlota. Para serte sincero, me lo sospeché. Noté que los ánimos con respecto al tema Dudamel estaban muy encrispados, y pensé que era importante que la gente se preguntase si era correcto o no. Claro que se entiende, todo se entiende, pero tenemos que ir más allá y sopesar lo que decimos y sentimos, sobre todo pensando en esa Venezuela post-Maduro que tiene que venir. En fin, no sé si quiera traducir este, ya suficiente palo he recibido nada más por la versión en inglés, te imaginarás si lo pongo en español… Abrazos para la familia y para tus papás.

    • Yo nunca he estado de acuerdo con eso de que “la situación no está para medias tintas”, porque esa es la expresión del maniqueísmo, fuente de toda intolerancia y de la polarización que divide al país y que tanto beneficia al régimen. La realidad nunca es totalmente blanca o negra y la verdad se esconde en los matices. Por eso ese dicho de que “en la guerra la primera víctima es la verdad”.

      Respecto a Dudamel está claro que si bien no simpatiza abiertamente con el régimen, presta su imagen al mismo. ¿Por qué razón exactamente? es difícil saberlo o entenderlo, él mismo no quiere aclararlo. ¿Tiene derecho a ser chavista? Si que lo tiene. También tiene derecho a cerrar los ojos a todos los crímenes del régimen y justificar de cualquier manera su apoyo al mismo. Incluso tiene derecho a pensar que no lo está apoyando de ninguna manera si eso quiere creer.

      De la misma forma como su gran talento musical le da derecho a disfrutar de los aplausos del publico agradecido y de su merecida fama, sus desatinos políticos le dan derecho a sufrir las críticas y el desprecio de aquellos a quienes nos decepcionan sus acciones.

      • AMIERES, cuando yo digo que la situacion no esta para medias tintas es porque a estas alturas del partido, un venezolano responsable con edad de votar, o le gusta el sistema de gobierno que tenemos o no le gusta. NO creo que a Dudamel le sea indiferente lo que pasa en su pais. Tiene derecho a ser chavista, a cerrar los ojos, a justificar, a todo tiene derecho por ser un ser libre. Pero todo tiene consecuencias.
        Se discute mucho si toco o no el concierto del 12 de Febrero, creo que ese no es el punto para gabriela montero, simplemente fue la gota que derramo el vaso, pues no es el primer concierto que hace para el gobierno
        jUAN, lo de traducir tus articulos es para los proximos, ya de este tuvimos suficiente. un abrazo

  60. I’m impressed – 206 comments and counting, and Dudamel hasn’t really said much in support of the Revolution to begin with. Only a superstar generates those kinds of emotions.

    • Wrong…i have no feeling about the man whatsoever….it is was your idea that his not supporting the opposition in their struggle to be treated like human beings was okay that so got me incensed .Dudamel to me is a giant bore, like all supreme egotists.

  61. Juan.
    I am not foaming at the mouth, i am fuming which is different, and all of us that want a future for Venezuela should be fuming.
    have we forgotten what this regime has done to Venezuela, while the likes of Dudamel and all the other apologists look the other way because is convenient.
    And no, love of democracy and the rule of law does not make us extremists that would punish simpatizers, as you mentioned by taken away passports, or putting them in jail because they think different than us, we’ll leave that to this regime.
    That goon that Mr. Dudamel was hugging, the picture on your post, just ordered the shooting of young Venezuelans whose only crime was, to disagree with the regime, when Mr. Dudamel performs for him, or talks to him, and hugs him, he condones that violence, he is a part of that social warfare that Havana has instituted in Venezuela.
    This is not a matter of political views, being a Chavista, centrist or from the right, this is a matter of a bunch of criminals that have destroy Venezuela, have killed twentyfive thousand people a year, have stolen the future of the country, filled us with fear and paralised us and is a matter of those apologists that tacitly support them, so you are with them or against them, and when we learn that, is when we could really start talking about change.
    The ” useful idiot” yes he is an idiot, but should not be defended, his right to be an idiot, i will defend with my life,but i will not defend his actions and when he is complacent about the situation in his own country, and does not speak out against the regime that perpetrates this horrors he becomes a criminal.
    His punishment? none in my book, just my right to call him a ” Vende Patria”

  62. Señor Nagel: (en castellano, pues mi inglés no da para tanto) Dudamel nunca ha expresado verbalmente sus preferencias políticas. El solamente participó en un acto oficial que trataba de encubrir un delito de lesa humanidad. Eso lo convierte en cómplice y es algo que usted omite en su superficial análisis.

    Buenas noches y buena suerte.

    • La noche del 12 de febrero Dudamel participó en un concierto en la sede del Sistema en Caracas, que estaba organizado y anunciado hace meses, y que era una celebración de los 39 años del Sistema. No fue un acto oficial ni se organizó para encubrir ningún delito. El acto oficial esa noche fue el desfile militar que encabezó Maduro en La Victoria. En ese desfile ciertamente tocó la Sinfónica de Aragua, dirigida por Christian Vasquez. Pero Dudamel no tuvo nada que ver con eso.

      ¡Con qué ligereza la gente lanza acusaciones sin tener la más mínima idea de lo que está hablando!

      • Señor León: Muy bien han podido negarse a servir de comparsa. Que haya estado programado con antelación no compromete la conciencia de los individuos. Se usó como cortina de humo para encubrir asesinatos premeditados y cometidos con ventaja. Fue transmitido en cadena nacional de radio y televisión.

        • Recurso sumamente común ese de decir que los demás “no saben de lo que hablan”. Bajo, por demás. Así es la gente cuando no quiere asumir la realidad.

        • El que fue transmitido en cadena fue el desfile militar en La Victoria, no el concierto de Dudamel en el Centro de Accion Social por la Musica en Caracas. Yo estoy de acuerdo en que Dudamel debio haber cancelado ese concierto. Aunque quizás en ese momento no se tenia claro qué es lo que estaba pasando en el país. Aún así, los otros conciertos del programa aniversario debieron suspenderse y eso no se hizo. Mi punto no es defender a Dudamel y a El Sistema por todo lo que hagan, pues reconozco que han tenido muchas fallas. Mi punto es que existe la muy extendida percepción de que Dudamel estaba tocando para Maduro y el alto mando militar en cadena nacional mientras mataban a venezolanos y eso, simplemente, no sucedió. Esas son las acusaciones que, según mi punto de vista, la gente está lanzando sin estar informados.

  63. Silence gives consent.

    Dudamel, by remaining silent about the crimes of the chavernment, implicitly consents to those crimes.

    It is argued that his silence gains continued state support for El Sistema. How much is El Sistema worth?

    The chavernment doesn’t kill people directly, very much. But it loots Venezuela, it wrecks Venezuela’s economy, it ruins Venezuela’s state agencies, and it corrupts Venezuela’s political process to ensure its continued power. These actions have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Venezuelans due to poverty, crime, and the general incompetence of the state. Perhaps hundreds of thousands.

    Dudamel, by his association with chavismo, bears some responsibility for these outcomes. A small share, but the magnitude of chavismo’s crimes is such that a small share is damning.

    He has the right, as an independent moral actor, to support chavismo. And if he does so he is as guilty of chavismo’s crimes as any other collaborator with tyranny.

  64. I have to side with JC on this one. Or at least I don’t see how it is so simple to side against him!

    First off, though, it upsets me greatly that Dudamel has not candidly and publicly spoken against chavismo and even lends support to Maduro and his cronies. I didn’t know he attended Chavez’s funeral next to Sean Penn. That seems wrong in many many ways.

    But not everyone that attended Chavez’ funeral was there because they agreed with everything chavismo has done. Some were Chavez’ relatives and friends. Yes, sounds naive, but it is important to separate between private and public spheres. The problem with Dudamel is that he has such a large public figure in Venezuela and abroad, that any action he takes can be interpreted many ways. If he goes to Chavez’ funeral, is it a political statement in support of chavismo, a thank you to the former president for supporting El Sistema, an appearance because he was an intimate friend of Chavez, a demonstration of patriotism? If he hobnobs with scumbag Sean Penn, is it because they became friends in LA, because they share political opinions, or merely a coincidence because they were participating, with different intentions, in the same public ceremony?

    As for his presence at a ceremony commemorating El Sistema which unfortunately coincided with the recent violent events: that is bad luck. It might come across as insensitive, but I suspect there were a few thousand Venezuelans – not all chavista – who celebrated their own birthdays with cake and candles (or whatever they could find) on that day, despite events on the streets. The one who truly comes across as Marie Antoinette is Maduro.

    Dudamel’s political calculation might amount simply to: the welfare of El Sistema is more important then my own political opinions. Many commentators here opine that this is not justifiable, but I disagree. It is the same reason thousands of government employees might continue going to work, for Venezuela, not for chavismo.

    I am upset that El Sistema has gotten tangled up with chavismo, but for practical purposes that is true of nearly all of Venezuela. And I present to you another case which probably infuriated many here: Capriles attending the governors meeting with Maduro presiding. Should he have done that? Was it tacit approval of chavismo? Is it naive to think we should do our best despite chavismo’s ability to profit from it?

  65. Juan is spot on, the basic point is that both Dudamel and Gabriela’s right to speak out is what should protected, keep it sacred and accepted by all. Not acceptance is the dad sign that the levels of intolerance in Venezuela have reached an intolerable level. By the way, El Sistema is one of the few excellent things that Puntofijismo and Chavismo share. If Gustavo is trying to preserve that, this is a good thing. History will judge him on his Chavez time performances in official ceremonies…

  66. Juan, hay un problema de base en este artículo, y es que no fue Dudamel quien dirigió el famoso Mambo en el concierto del 12, sabes? Fue otro chico de iniciales CV. No sé si ya lo han aclarado más arriba, pero entenderás que no puedo leer todos los comentarios por falta de tiempo. Busquen el video del concierto y revisen con cuidado. Saludos

    • Totalmente cierto. El video de la cadena está aquí: Fue Christian Vasquez el director. Lamentablemente, algunas personas están tan obsesionadas con la mentira, repetida mil veces, de que “Dudamel estaba tocando el mambo para Maduro en cadena mientras mataban a los estudiantes”, que ni siquiera ver el video les permite aceptar la realidad. El concierto de Dudamel (que por cierto no fue el Mambo sino la Cantata Criolla) ni se transmitió en cadena ni se organizó para “tapar la masacre de venezolanos”.

  67. i am so requeti-sick of this thread….everything that could be said has been said umpteen times.:(

    if this theme is so important, perhaps JC can make a new thread utilizing some of the same sore spots,but one that will give them new life-

    on another occasion,

    because now we are witnessing the deterioration of argument.

  68. Everything has been said. If it wasn’t an issue there wouldn’t be a post about Dudamel. Beethoven re-dedicated his symphony #3 after he found out that Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor. At least he had morals and a sense of right and wrong. Dudamel as gifted as he his, has no moral compass. He’ll have to live with this for ever.

  69. Dear Juan Cristobal, With all due respect I beg to differ from your view. If I may say, I think you are losing sight of the real issue here and of the point made by Gabriela Montero in her open letter.
    No one is judging him for being chavista (and who does it, is wrong!), he is entitled to his opinion and I respect that, I respected that when I admired him out of his achivements and was particularly proud because he is from my hometown. It didn’t matter to me that he is chavista because what he is he owes to his talent and effort (and to that his political view is absolutly irrelevant), I was even about to ask him for an autograph when I saw him in Chez Wong La Castellana in Caracas some time ago. What I condemn and criticize him for is for supporting the wrongdoings of this regime, for being present at those very same events listed in your blog entry (to support stealing of TV assets, violation of right of free speech, violation of the National Constitution to make maduro President, violation of Human Rigths, etc), for lending his talent to hide the truecolors of these gov.’s actions, and for hiding behind the lame argument of preserving government funds for El Sistema. I critize him because he is a role model to those kids and he is teaching them that it is acceptable to support wrong beavior and to ignore the pain of others to protect oneself. So, no, his actions are not justified.
    Because the kids El Sistema take away from a path of crime and poverty are also subject to the risks of being killed by criminals in the street, just like any of us. Because when those kids grow up, they will have to suffer the humiliation of being silenced if their opinions are diferent to the regime, othewise they’ll lose their jobs or won’t be admited to the university, or won’t be able to have a bank account, or else. Just few minor examples, not to go to the big ones.
    To put a simple example (and just because it’s trendy and , so don’t take me wrong!), it is ok that if a teenager admires Justin Bieber and happens to be present at the time he is commiting a felony, that she covers up for him? Because in her view he is very talented? So, she admires and support his talent and therefore his actions? In this example, Justin is maduro, and the teenager is of course Dudamel, and this is what Dudamel did on February 12, he covered up for maduro while other kids (maybe even from El Sistema) were being chased, imprisioned, injured, tortured and murdered.
    What’s talent without integrity?

  70. Dudamel embracing Maduro?… Dudamel is entitled to any opinions but, being a famous public figure that picture makes a strong statement, either he is looking out for himself or he supports what Maduro does/represents -neither of these is a very positive characteristic. Aside from all that, performance musicians are the most cut-throat competitive people I have ever known so it would not surprise me that they’ll do anything to advance their goals.

  71. A simple statement against violence, a simple acknowledgement would have sufficed. Had he not been playing that night a short distance away, I would have felt different about his silence.

  72. Juan, congratulations. You made Reuters and Drudge Report. That’s big.

    I’m going to coin the term “Covert Chavista” for Dudamel

  73. Eva Golinger’s panties are going to be bunched up when she sees you made Drudge. Poor Eva trying to convince everyone that Russia Today (RT) out of NY is the only truth.

  74. Totally on topic, Gabriela Montero just posted this on FB.

    After the events of the last few days, the time has come for all Venezuelans to answer some straight questions, to make some decisive choices, and to make their choices be known. This includes my colleagues in the music profession. The time for equivocation, duplicity, complicity and silence is over. The time for self-revelation is here, and that will take courage, the willingness to put integrity before self-interest. So who are you really? What are your true values? Are you Chavista or not? If so, are you therefore an enemy of the free market economies, and an enemy of the US? These were the expressed values of Chavez. Can you really claim to embrace the principles of peace and unity while embracing a regime that has only brought vitriol, violence and division? Are you prepared to condone the steady economic, social and civic decay of Venezuela over the last 15 years? Are you prepared to accept Venezuela’s shameful position as one of the world’s most violent and corrupt societies? Do you accept state control of the media and the manipulation of votes? Do you accept kleptocracy masquerading as a democracy? Do you accept rule by decree? Do you accept that the reality of Venezuela today is the best result that could have been achieved during the biggest fuel commodities price boom of all time, with the world’s largest oil resources at our disposal? If this is your politics, if these are your values, declare them and live by them. They are not mine. Years ago, I was offered a considerable amount of money to perform for the government in a special concert in Buenos Aires. I categorically refused. I still refuse to represent this government on any platform anywhere. To do otherwise is to legitimize and exalt failure on a catastrophic scale. All of our actions and all of our omissions have consequences.

    • In short: the power of authenticity and consistency = integrity…which ,if we do not uphold, then we get what we deserve.

      In a just society we can pick and choose our alliances and our expression, but these alliances and expressions will have certain results, and we will get what we have chosen,

  75. He has the right to be Chavista. He can also hate babies and puppies. Who cares. The point is that he was in a good position to make a difference and he didn’t take advantage of it.

    Juan, the point is that a young Venezuelan marching is taking a chance. He could get shot, or get detained and tortured, or, worse off, realize that his efforts will not change anything and he has to go back to reality (a reality with no job, money, education, future and, more importantly, safety).

    On the other hand, a Dudamel can make a big difference without taking any chances. He has fame, prestige, an amazing job, and he doesn’t have to worry about money ever again in his life. Do you think he worries about getting killed on his way to the Los Angeles Philharmonic? Do you think his family in LA is having trouble finding food in the supermarkets? For all we know he’s getting his US citizenship or already has it. The sad true is that he sided with the wrong side. And he could have done the right thing without taking the chances that the young Venezuelan marching in Caracas is taking. He could have done the right thing without giving any of the privileges he has earned with his talent. Y lo mas triste? People like you will defend him just because he’s Dudamel.

    Do I have the right to say I’m disappointed?

  76. There is something you are not seeing with your post. Yes, everyone has the right to choose their political views, but it is inherently wrong to lead a concert celebrating youth while people are dying. That is what is fundamentally wrong and that is what Gabriela Montero Criticized and that is why I cannot agree with your post. What he did is hypocritical. Having an organization to help young kids in need and then ignore what’s going on in the country, how young people are being hurt and killed, is hypocritical.

  77. “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”

    Dante Alighieri

    Dudamel’s crime: remaining neutral in front of Venezuela’s moral crisis.

  78. Throughout the comments section mention of Germany has come up a few times, and while it may be a stretch, and not fair to compare Wilhem Furtwaengler to Gustavo Dudamel, it can’t hurt to learn about the controversy surrounding Furtwaengler, not to mention the side plots which involved Herbert von Karajan. Interestingly, a play, “Taking Sides” was written, followed by a Hollywood Film of the same name starring Harvey Keitel and Stellan Skarsgård.

    Here’s a link for Furtwaengler:ängler

    Before closing let’s not forget the courage of Bronislaw Huberman who among many things also wrote prior to WWII an “open letter to German intellectuals inviting them to remember their essential values”ław_Huberman

  79. That’s right Federica. The only lack of Dudamel, in my view. is not having stopped the concert while massacring humans, that makes him to my eyes an indolent person. Juan Cristobal, I am sure that your conscience would have dictated you to stop immediately, regardless of who is in front. Moreover, it seems sterile discussing his political or religious preferences. The point at issue here is the human condition.

  80. This is simply one of the worst and most illogical arguments I’ve ever read. Do I have to point out that you’re attacking a straw man? Nobody is arguing that Dudamel should be going to jail for what he did. Nobody is saying he has no right to do what he did. The criticism is that he shouldn’t have done it given the brutality of the regime he is working for. He fully deserves to be lambasted by the opposition and all of us. Your post is just saying he has a right to do so- sure, so what? We have a right to criticize him for what he did. A racist in the U.S. has a right to be a racist, does that mean we cannot criticize them for being one? He should be criticized vehemently. And there’s nothing wrong about that.

    Moreover, I think you’ve been watching and reading U.S. media for too long. Your false equivalence–he has a right to support them just as much as we have a right to oppose them–is astounding. The system he supports is not democratic. The one we support is democratic. PERIOD. That by itself means that our beliefs are objectively better. We have MORE of a right to support democracy than he has to support a non-democratic system. So do not, do not, equate our beliefs as somehow the same.

  81. Excellent post, I found it absolutively hilarious, when people from the opposition complains about other people views. Aren’t we all supposed to be wanting to live in Democracy?, different views are the pillar of it. One can agree or disagree with Dudamel’s political view, but that’s about it. No one is allowed to condemn, insult or think less of him. Live and let live.

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