After struggling to remain above the fray, the conductor Gustavo Dudamel has increasingly criticized the rulers of his native Venezuela this year as an escalating political crisis has roiled the nation. Now he is facing the consequences: The Venezuelan government has canceled Mr. Dudamel’s upcoming tour of the United States with the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela.
Mr. Dudamel, who is the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said on Twitter that the cancellation of the planned tour was “heartbreaking,” adding: “We will continue to play and to fight for a better Venezuela and a better world.”
The cancellation was first reported by El Nacional, which reported that the decision came from the office of the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro. It came days after Mr. Maduro openly mocked Mr. Dudamel, who is arguably Venezuela’s most important cultural export — and who, as the product of the El Sistema music program, has been an international symbol of the power of the nation’s government-supported social programs.
“Welcome to politics, Gustavo Dudamel,” Mr. Maduro said in a televised appearance on Friday, according to The Associated Press. “But act with ethics, and don’t let yourself be deceived into attacking the architects of this beautiful movement of young boys and girls.”
“I hope God forgives you,” Mr. Maduro added.
Mr. Dudamel apparently drew the president’s ire with his increasingly forceful pronouncements about the crisis in Venezuela — pronouncements which came after he faced criticism in some quarters for trying to avoid being drawn into discussions of Venezuelan politics.
In May, after Armando Cañizales, a young El Sistema-trained viola player, was killed during a street protest, Mr. Dudamel issued a statement telling the government “enough is enough.” Last month he wrote 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.
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