These are crucial days for the present and future of Venezuela. My country is living through dark and complicated times, following a dangerous path that may lead us inevitably to the betrayal of our deepest republican traditions.
We have reached a critical crossroad as the government has called for the election on July 30 of a National Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Constitution. This is not the answer. All Venezuelan citizens have a duty to do what we can to reverse the current situation, to defend our fundamental democratic values and to prevent the shedding of more blood.
As a conductor, I have learned that our society, like an orchestra, is formed by a large number of people, all of them different, unique and irreducible, each with his or her own ideas, personal convictions and visions of the world. This wonderful diversity means that in politics, as in music, no absolute truth exists. In order to thrive as a society, as well as to achieve musical excellence, we must create a common frame of reference in which all individuals can feel included despite their differences, a frame of reference that will minimize the noise and cacophony of disagreement, and allow us to fine-tune an agreement, through plurality and diverging points of view, in order to achieve political and social harmony.
As a result of my unwavering respect for justice and human diversity, I have an obligation, as a Venezuelan citizen, to speak out against the unconstitutional decision by the government to convene a National Constituent Assembly, which will have the power not only to rewrite the Constitution but also to dissolve national institutions. This decision only exacerbates the existing conflict and social tension. Our Constitution has not been respected. Despite the events of last Sunday, when millions of Venezuelans at home and abroad signaled their rejection of the government’s plans, we have not been able to speak out publicly through a binding popular consultation.
I strongly urge the Venezuelan government to suspend the convening of the National Constituent Assembly. I ask all Venezuelan political leaders to fulfill their responsibilities as representatives of the Venezuelan people, to earnestly and respectfully create the necessary conditions to achieve a new framework for coexistence. Our country urgently needs to lay the foundation for a democratic order that guarantees social peace, security and a prosperous future for our sons and daughters.
There cannot be two constitutions, two electoral processes or two legislative assemblies. Venezuela is a single nation; one country with room for us all, one country where people of all persuasions should be able to participate and express themselves freely, without fear of reprisal, violence in the streets or repression. Seeking victory through force and the imposition of ideas will inevitably result in collective defeat for Venezuela. The only legitimate path to victory is though the ballot box and respect for the rule of law.
I think of all the people killed over the last months with great anguish and pain. But I also think of the recent events as harbingers of hope, as important first steps and real possibilities of positive change that can come for Venezuela.
We Venezuelans need these moments of hope in order to recover the harmony we so long for. The will to find a solution generates hope for a plural and inclusive country, a better future for our children. The will to find a solution means, ultimately, to believe in a democratic and peaceful Venezuela dedicated to creating more opportunity and a better life for all.
I believe in that Venezuela.
Gustavo Dudamel is Music Director of the LA Philarmonic and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela, and an advocate of music and artistic education as ways for achieving social harmony.