A scandal surrounds the renowned Venezuelan orchestra system, as a wave of allegations exposed serious cases of sexual abuse among teachers and students.
An article published in The Washington Post describes how one of the most famous orchestra systems in the world is full of underage victims who were allegedly abused while trying to fulfill the dream of becoming great musicians.
“El Sistema” is the flagship brand of famed Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the United States.
Allegations that stunned the Venezuelan orchestra system
The WaPo article recalls accusations made by Angie Cantero, a former musician of El Sistema, who claimed that the orchestra program “was/is plagued by pedophiles, pedophiles and an incalculable number of people who have committed the crime of statutory rape.”
“There are a lot of disgusting people who love to trick girls and teenagers, taking advantage of their position of power and renown within El Sistema,” added the Venezuelan musician.
Cantero’s complaint served as the impetus for dozens of serious accusations. One woman even described being raped by a teacher when she was 14 years old.
Musicians of El Sistema have also denounced that some male authority figures exchanged musical benefits (tours, intensive courses, promotions) for sex. Abusive behavior that they described as “an open secret.”
But this is not the first time that allegations of sexual harassment in the Venezuelan orchestra system have been made public; the WaPo recalls the book written by Geoff Baker published in 2014; there he wrote about allegations of widespread abuse, which the system later decided to deny calling them “absolutely false.”
Former El Sistema violinist Luigi Mazzocchi also went so far as to claim in 2016 that teachers said that having relationships with students was part of “helping” them grow as “better musicians.”
“Their methods were based on an uplifting discourse about art, passion, and intellect,” says Lisa, a victim who referred to keep her real name anonymous.
“According to him, I had to let myself be driven by sexual desire to get a full sound,” she said.
“I raise my voice for me and for those who can still be saved from having to live it. This teacher is still teaching children and teenagers. Silence protects them. We must speak out until we leave them unable to use their power to abuse and abuse others,” Lisa said on her Twitter account.