Last month the Venezuelan government canceled Mr. Dudamel’s tour of the United States with the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela.
Mr. Dudamel, who is the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is one of the most sought-after conductors in the world, has long tried to stay above the fray of politics in his native country — sometimes drawing criticism and protests for his silence.
But as the situation deteriorated over the past year, and widespread protests were greeted with harsh government crackdowns, Mr. Dudamel began speaking up — especially after an 18-year-old El Sistema-trained viola player, Armando Cañizales was killed during a street protest, prompting Mr. Dudamel to issue a statement telling the government that “enough is enough.” He went on to write an opinion piece in The New York Times condemning the government’s plans to hold a vote that would allow it to rewrite the country’s Constitution.
President Maduro mocked Mr. Dudamel in a televised appearance over the summer. “Welcome to politics, Gustavo Dudamel,” he said. “But act with ethics, and don’t let yourself be deceived into attacking the architects of this beautiful movement of young boys and girls.”
Mr. Dudamel, in his statement Thursday, called on the players in the orchestra and the young people of Venezuela to “remain strong and proud.” He added, “our spirit will not be broken, our hope will not waver, our music will not be silenced.”
“I shall never stop defending freedom of expression and the values of a just society,” he wrote. “Dark days like these are difficult, but standing together, we can rise to the challenge of improving our society.”