Human rights award for anti-Sistema campaigner

Human rights award for anti-Sistema campaigner

The outspoken pianist and composer Gabriela Montero, an unflinching opponent of the Venezuela militarist regime, has received the 2024 Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation.

Montero, 54, has exposed the cruelties of the regime and the callous ways it uses el Sistema, the music education programme, for propaganda and distortive purposes.

On receiving the award, she said:

‘Now, more than ever, highly visible artists are faced with moral choices; to use their art to conceal tyranny, or to reveal it.
In Venezuela, music has – by intricate state-controlled design – become the great concealer, Marcel Marceau’s immovable happy mask, beneath which the human heart writhes and languishes in abject suffering and misery. Let us not forget that, as the number of participants in Venezuela’s famed music system reportedly grows, so, too, do the number of exiles and refugees. 8.5 million Venezuelans are now estimated to have fled their homeland, representing every level of education, skill, ethnicity, and social class. All the while, our classical music family has promoted an abject lie on the world stage, that utopia lies in a Castro/Cuban iteration of Revolution in the land of Simón Bolívar.

‘It is now 2024, and another election looms in Venezuela. The next president of Venezuela, if left to the people of Venezuela to decide, would be Maria Corina Machado. However, the regime holding Venezuela hostage has decreed that she cannot participate in the democratic process. The criminality of the few continues to usurp the decency of the many.’

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