Amid chaos of Venezuela street demos, a lone vi­o­lin­ist plays

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

As tear gas chokes the air and wa­ter can­nons gush in the streets, a skinny young man wear­ing the red, blue and yel­low of Venezuela’s flag stands bravely amid the chaos and plays the vi­o­lin. That is 23-year-old Wuilly Arteaga do­ing his bit-con­tribut­ing mu­sic to the nearly daily street ral­lies rock­ing the coun­try as the op­po­si­tion tries to force Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro from power. Arteaga, who was badly in­jured in the face Satur­day at a demon­stra­tion, has be­come a sort of fix­ture at the ral­lies-a pow­er­ful sym­bol of ev­ery­day peo­ple’s anger with a leader they blame for a se­vere eco­nomic cri­sis.

As bed­lam erupts around him, Arteaga stands and plays the na­tional an­them or tra­di­tional Venezue­lan mu­sic. Big time per­form­ers abroad like pop star Shakira have taken no­tice and ex­pressed sup­port for Arteaga. On Satur­day, Arteaga was seen with blood pour­ing from cuts on the left side of his face. He said later he had been struck with buck­shot. “They are not go­ing to frighten me,” Arteaga said in a video he posted on Twit­ter from a hos­pi­tal bed, with big swollen lips and ban­dages on his face. “We are go­ing to keep fight­ing.” Then he picked up his vi­o­lin and played a lit­tle. On so­cial me­dia, peo­ple went nuts with praise for him.

‘I know I am no­body’

The mu­si­cian be­came an icon of the protest move­ment on May 8 when he was pic­tured calmly weav­ing through tear gas with his vi­o­lin on his shoul­der, play­ing a clas­sic Venezue­lan folk song called “Alma Llan­era.” Im­mor­tal­ized in pho­to­graphs from that per­for­mance, he said he meant it as a mes­sage of peace. Arteaga learned to play with an award-win­ning Venezue­lan net­work of youth or­ches­tras cre­ated for kids from un­der­priv­i­leged ar­eas. Arteaga shot to fame when he per­formed at the fu­neral of an 18-year-old mu­si­cian, Ar­mando Caniza­les, who died of a gun­shot wound May 3 at a protest rally in Cara­cas.

Hand­out pic­ture re­leased by Robert Car­mona-Bor­jas show­ing Venezue­lan vi­o­lin­ist Wuilly Arteaga, who gained fame for play­ing at many of Venezuela’s op­po­si­tion marches, ly­ing in a hos­pi­tal bed in Cara­cas af­ter he was in­jured dur­ing a protest.

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