Venezuelan violinist becomes symbol of hope during protests

Willy Artega's love of country and music gets worldwide attention

CARACAS, Venezuela – There were free violins and free lessons. When socialism and the wealth from oil paired in Venezuela, there was a public music program benefiting some 300,000 students nationwide. The Ministry of Culture was determin

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was the patron of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, better known as "El Sistema."

Oil prices lowered and many of the government programs failed. An 17-year-old violinist Armando Cañizales  died while protesting Chávez's successor, President Nicolas Maduro, earlier this year. And officials dragged a violinist who has been playing during protests in Caracas and damaged his violin.

"Until when are we going to continue with this?" The violinist, Willy Artega, said in tears.

The video of Arteaga quickly went viral. He recently played to a large crowd who was mourning the death of Armando and dozens of others who have died during the protestes.

Shakira autographed a violin that a Miami radio station helped to get for Arteaga. He has even gotten offers to study music abroad. But his patriotism won't let leave his beloved Venezuela. 

Local 10 News Andrea Torres contributed to this story.