Violinist Wuilly Arteaga injured during protest in Venezuela

National Guard attack democratic protesters in Caracas

Wuilly Arteaga was injured days before he was arrested Thursday in Caracas.
Wuilly Arteaga was injured days before he was arrested Thursday in Caracas.

CARACAS, Venezuela – Violinist Wuilly Arteaga was hospitalized Saturday in Caracas. The yellow, blue and red sections of his shirt and hat were stained with blood. His lip was swollen. Bandages covered the left side of his face. But he was still holding his violin. 

Arteaga, 23, was marching with members of the Democratic Unity Roundtable electoral coalition. They were demanding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro step down and release political prisoners.

Witnesses said members of the National Guard injured Arteaga during the protest. He posted a video on Twitter vowing to continue playing during marches until Venezuela achieves independence. 

"Tomorrow I return to the streets," Arteaga wrote

Rows of police officers in motorcycles blocked roads. Clouds of white gas filled the streets. Riot police officers continued to shoot tear gas canisters at protesters, as they have been doing during nearly four months of street protests. 

The reports of injuries during protests also included journalists Daniel Blanco, Luis Diaz, Alonso Moleiro and Carlos Torres

The crowd wanted to protest at the Supreme Court building. The coalition started marches from six locations in Caracas. They also wanted to show their support for the 33 justices the National Assembly appointed Friday. 

Arteaga started to play in the streets after 17-year-old violinist Armado Cañizales was fatally shot during a May 3 protest. The unarmed teen was a member of the government funded Simón Bolívar Musical Foundation, youth orchestras better known worldwide as El Sistema. 

While orchestral members played memorial concerts in Cañizales' memory, Arteaga has put his classical training to use in the streets. The protesters, who are mostly students and unemployed young professionals, face riot police officers with shields, rocks and Molotov cocktails while he plays.  

Democrats protesting against the socialist government consider Arteaga a hero of "The Resistance." Sometimes he plays the national anthem in the middle of the chaos. With the food shortages, he claims to have seen struggling musicians eating from the trash. 

His tears went viral on YouTube earlier this year. He said a police officer grabbed his violin by its strings and dragged him as he held on to it. He lost what was left of the violin for a moment. Another police officer returned it to him.

Donors worldwide found ways to send him a new violin. Arteaga, who traveled Europe with El Sistema in 2014, received so many violins that he started to give some away to other musicians. Even Shakira autographed a violin that the Cuban Pichy Boys and their fans in Miami gave him. 


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