Wuilly Arteaga Arrested: Iconic Protesting Violinist Imprisoned For Playing National Anthem

Wuilly Arteaga
“We gave this violin to Wuilly, so that through his music, he may continue to remind Venezuelans that those who love freedom can change the world.” — Marion Smith from Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Photo: Youtube

Symbol for Venezuela’s struggle for democracy, violinist Wuilly Arteaga, was arrested during a national strike called by the opposition party. Venezuelan’s are against President Nicolás Maduro’s plans to change the constitution.

According to the head of the NGO Penal Forum, Alfredo Romero, the violinist currently remains in custody at the command headquarters of the National Guard in El Paraiso and is need of medical assistance. Romero tweeted “Wuilly Arteaga (the violinist) was detained in Comando 433, Bolivarian National Guard, El Paraiso, Caracas."

In response to Venezuelan dissident Wuilly Atreaga’s arrest by government forces in Venezuela, Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), offered the following statement:

“Wuilly Areteaga represents the spirit of the Venezuelan people. Despite being bloodied 6 days ago by police and seeing his fellow freedom fighters arrested around him, Wuilly continued to play his violin in the streets of Caracas. His music valiantly accompanies the chorus of voices demanding a free, democratic Venezuela. Showing his cowardice and illegitimacy, Nicolas Maduro arrested Wuilly and others last night ahead of the sham July 30th elections, which the regime is staging to consolidate its control. Further showing this, Maduro has now banned protests in the lead up to the event for fear of the people making the majority opinion known.

“In Venezuela, there are currently 444 political prisoners and over 3,500 detainees, many of whom have not even been charged. Sadly, over 100 people have been killed by Maduro’s regime, and right in the open on the streets. Here is where Havana has reared its ugly head: Cuban intelligence officials are running the jails and detention centers where detainees are being subjected to brutal conditions and torture. Like Wuilly, teenagers and young adults make up the bulk of the protesters fighting for a vision of their country inspired by the promise of freedom. Maduro’s regime must release all prisoners immediately and allow the majority opposition to freely determine the future of Venezuela, not Raul Castro and his thugs.”

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a Washington-based, non-profit educational and human rights organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes. VOC was authorized by an unanimous act of Congress on December 17, 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton.

Before his arrest, Arteaga was injured in the face by buckshot from the Bolivarian National Guard while peacefully playing his violin in the streets. The buckshot narrowly missed his eye, and Wuilly has undergone surgery for his injuries. A criminal investigation into this act of aggression has been opened by his lawyers.

Recently, U.S President Donald Trump sent a letter in which he described Nicolas Maduro as "bad leader," and threatened to eliminate economic support to the South American country.

"Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law," Trump wrote in a statement. "Yet their strong and courageous actions continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator. The United States will not stand by the Venezuela crumbles."

The message caused great discomfort among senior Venezuelan executives, and the response was immediate and challenging. "Our country is not given any kind of orders nor is it ruled by any foreign government," said the head of state in his Twitter account.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada, also  repudiated the White House statement at a press conference. "Trump has committed an aggression against a Latin American country," the official said. Moncada said that the U.S. was "xenophobic and racist" and said they would not accept humiliation from anyone. "The United States threatens the people," said the chancellor. "The dignity of our people is at stake," he added.

Protests against Maduro since April 1 have brought thousands to the streets demanding elections, but has also left more than 100 people dead, according to an official toll. The opposition in Venezuela is brutally repressed and everyone is asking for peace in the midst of the crisis.

 

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Shirley Gomez has been exposed to many aspects of the art world. Besides being a Fashion Journalist, she studied Fashion Styling and Fashion Styling for Men at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Interior Design at UNIBE and Fashion Design at ITSMJ Fashion School in the Dominican Republic. She worked as a Fashion Journalist, Fashion Stylist and Social Media Manager at one of the most recognized magazines in the Dominican Republic, Oh! Magazine, as an occasional Entertainment Journalist, of the prestigious newspaper “Listín Diario”, as well as a fashion collaborator of a radio show aired in 100.9 FM SuperQ. When Shirley is not writing you can find her listening Demi Lovato or Beyonce's songs, decorating her apartment or watching Family Feud.