Venezuelan government is terrified of Wuilly Arteaga's violin, attorney says

Violinist remains in jail Tuesday accused of inciting violence

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 – Venezuelan violinist Wuilly Arteaga's mom said her son's face was disfigured, there was blood on his clothes and his hair was burned when she went to see him in jail.

In a statement published by Info Venezuela, Evelyn de Arteaga said that when she saw him her world was turned upside down. She said her son managed to utter a sentence in a trembling voice.

When he said he felt ashamed that she had to see him in that condition, she saw strength in his indignation. She saw "the brave and proud patriot" and felt "his indomitable spirit." She believes "his wounds will heal and his music will ring again."

Wuilly Arteaga, 23, was arrested Thursday while playing his violin as he has been doing for months in the streets of Caracas and he remained behind bars Tuesday. His attorney, Alfredo Romero, said a riot police officer hit Arteaga with his violin during the arrest and he complained of hearing loss. 

Romero, the director of Foro Penal, added in a video published Sunday that the government was violating Arteaga's rights and were violating legal procedures. 

"Everything is being done in hiding, in the dark," Romero said. "It must be the terror of the violin ... the terror of the peaceful expression of the music."

Romero said Arteaga was assigned a public defender despite having representation and was charged with inciting violence in public and possession of inflammatory substances during a secret hearing Saturday. 

Romero said authorities would allow him to post bond in 40 days, but Arteaga couldn't afford to bond himself out of jail. Arteaga's girlfriend, Gladienis Deloges, played the clarinet outside of the department of justice to protest his arrest. 

Arteaga was arrested days after he was injured during a protest. He started playing his violin during protests after 17-year-old violinist Armando Cañizales, who played with the Sinfónica Juvenil José Francisco del Castillo, died during a protest May 3

Armando Cañizales died during a May protest in Caracas.
Armando Cañizales died during a May protest in Caracas.

Cañizales, who was shot in the neck, had dreams of going to medical school. The death toll of nearly four months of protests remained at 130 Tuesday.

President Nicolas Maduro responded to the marches with a Sunday election to create a legislative body that is more powerful than that of the democratically elected National Assembly, which opposes socialist rule. Maduro promised the results of the election will lead to peace. 

Here is the translation of Evelyn de Arteaga's statement:

After hours of waiting in the GNB 433 Detachment trying to obtain some positive result that would lead to Wuilly's release, I had to travel to the national police agency (CICPC) with Alfredo Romero, his lawyer and another colleague, who out of respect and as a security measure I will not mention.

When I got there, I was automatically identified as his mother, without any doubt. They allowed us access ... but once I was there I collapsed. In an instant, my world was turned upside down, as I stood before his tiny body, his broken voice, his burned hair, his bloody clothes -- ripped and dirty --  and his disfigured face.

He only managed to utter in a trembling voice: "I am so ashamed that you have to see me in this state."

And his image became again that of a giant boy: The brave and proud patriot, pacifist of nature, sensitive, with a soul that embraces simplicity and easy verbiage. His indomitable spirit was dressed in glory because his wounds will heal and his music will ring again.

Tomorrow this unknown fighter will stand in front of control courts, in the Palace of Justice. We do not know what charges the Public Ministry at the hands of its prosecutors will file against him. It could be terrorism, weapons possession, alteration of public order. Yes, maybe a violin is capable of all those things.


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