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Amid tear gas, Venezuela violinist symbolizes hope for peace

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/5/2017 By FABIOLA SANCHEZ, Associated Press
In this May 6, 2017 photo, holding up his violin, Wuilly Arteaga shouts during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) © The Associated Press In this May 6, 2017 photo, holding up his violin, Wuilly Arteaga shouts during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Playing amid clouds of tear gas and flurries of rubber bullets, a young violinist bedecked in the bright colors of Venezuela's flag serenades anti-government protesters and police alike with a somber rendition of the national anthem, a song that translates as "Glory to the Brave People."

In this May 18, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. Protests across the country demanding socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s removal have resulted in at least 65 deaths and more than 1,100 injured. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) © The Associated Press In this May 18, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. Protests across the country demanding socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s removal have resulted in at least 65 deaths and more than 1,100 injured. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

It's been a familiar scene during more than two months of almost daily demonstrations in Venezuela's capital, where Wuilly Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. Protests across the country demanding socialist President Nicolas Maduro's removal have resulted in at least 65 deaths and more than 1,100 injured.

FILE - In this May 31, 2017 file photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. “When I play for the national guard, some of them listen to me, some of them cry. And when I play for the protesters, it gives them motivation to keep going,” Arteaga said. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 31, 2017 file photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government march in Caracas, Venezuela. “When I play for the national guard, some of them listen to me, some of them cry. And when I play for the protesters, it gives them motivation to keep going,” Arteaga said. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

Appearances by the 23-year-old almost ended two weeks ago when he and his instrument were dragged to the ground by a national guardsman on a motorcycle. Videos of Areaga crying over his broken violin spread on social media, garnering an outpouring of sympathy. People donated cash to have the instrument repaired, others gave him old violins and Colombian pop star Shakira signed her autograph on a violin dedicated to the virtuoso.

FILE - In this May 18, 2017 file photo, Wuilly Arteaga raises his violin before National Guards, as he yells not to shoot at protesters, creating a brief pause during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela. Appearances by the 23-year-old almost ended when he and his instrument were dragged to the ground by a national guardsman on a motorcycle. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 18, 2017 file photo, Wuilly Arteaga raises his violin before National Guards, as he yells not to shoot at protesters, creating a brief pause during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela. Appearances by the 23-year-old almost ended when he and his instrument were dragged to the ground by a national guardsman on a motorcycle. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

On Sunday, Arteaga and a group of musician friends gave a free concert in a Caracas plaza. To shouts of "Yes, we can" and "We are brothers," they thrilled the crowd of a few hundred with Venezuelan classics like the foot-stomping "Alma Llanera" and "Moliendo Cafe."

Violinist Wuilly Arteaga, left, sings with a fellow musician as they give a free concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Arteaga, 23, has become a symbol of a more peaceful form of protest largely squashed out in almost daily clashes between rock-throwing youth and heavy-handed security forces that have left at least 65 dead and more than 1,100 injured. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) © The Associated Press Violinist Wuilly Arteaga, left, sings with a fellow musician as they give a free concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Arteaga, 23, has become a symbol of a more peaceful form of protest largely squashed out in almost daily clashes between rock-throwing youth and heavy-handed security forces that have left at least 65 dead and more than 1,100 injured. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

"When I play for the national guard, some of them listen to me, some of them cry. And when I play for the protesters, it gives them motivation to keep going," Arteaga told The Associated Press, showing off his repaired violin, which still bears scuff marks and scratches from its brush with destruction. "I know my music creates a climate of peace, which is why I'll continue playing on the streets of Venezuela."

In this May 27, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga holds up his violin on top of a cement truck anti-government protesters took over during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga’s newfound celebrity status contrasts with his humble upbringing. He first picked up the violin growing up in the city of Valencia and was a member of Venezuela’s world-famous El Sistema network of youth orchestras and music schools. About four years ago he moved to Caracas, busking for his meals by playing on the streets and outside stores. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) © The Associated Press In this May 27, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga holds up his violin on top of a cement truck anti-government protesters took over during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga’s newfound celebrity status contrasts with his humble upbringing. He first picked up the violin growing up in the city of Valencia and was a member of Venezuela’s world-famous El Sistema network of youth orchestras and music schools. About four years ago he moved to Caracas, busking for his meals by playing on the streets and outside stores. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Arteaga's newfound celebrity status contrast with his humble upbringing.

FILE - In this May 24, 2017 file photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays a violin during clashes with security forces blocking an opposition march from reaching the National Electoral Council headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela. “He’s a hero,” said Paolo Lena, a Caracas businessman who donated to Areaga a violin he had bought five years ago for his son. “He’s putting forward his face for lots of people who are afraid to protest.” (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 24, 2017 file photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays a violin during clashes with security forces blocking an opposition march from reaching the National Electoral Council headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela. “He’s a hero,” said Paolo Lena, a Caracas businessman who donated to Areaga a violin he had bought five years ago for his son. “He’s putting forward his face for lots of people who are afraid to protest.” (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

He first picked up the violin growing up in the city of Valencia and was a member of Venezuela's world-famous El Sistema network of youth orchestras and music schools. He dropped out after two years but continued studying on his own. About four years ago he moved to Caracas, busking for his meals by playing on the streets and outside stores.

Violinist Wuilly Arteaga, center, performs with a group of musicians to give a free concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Protesters began to take notice of Arteaga after another violinist was killed when he was struck by a tear gas canister about a month into the protest movement. Arteaga played at the fellow musician’s funeral and has been a fixture of the near-daily protests ever since, frequently hunkering down in the dangerous middle ground between protester barricades and a line of heavily-armed riot police. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) © The Associated Press Violinist Wuilly Arteaga, center, performs with a group of musicians to give a free concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Protesters began to take notice of Arteaga after another violinist was killed when he was struck by a tear gas canister about a month into the protest movement. Arteaga played at the fellow musician’s funeral and has been a fixture of the near-daily protests ever since, frequently hunkering down in the dangerous middle ground between protester barricades and a line of heavily-armed riot police. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Protesters began to take notice of him after another violinist, a teenage member of El Sistema, was killed when struck by a tear gas canister about a month into the outbreak of protests. Arteaga played at the musician's funeral and has been a fixture at protests ever since, frequently hunkering down in the dangerous middle ground between protester barricades and a line of heavily armed riot police.

In this May 27, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. Protests across the country demanding socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s removal have resulted in at least 65 deaths and more than 1,100 injured. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) © The Associated Press In this May 27, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela. Arteaga has become a symbol of peaceful protest largely overshadowed by frequent clashes between rock-throwing youths and heavily armed security forces. Protests across the country demanding socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s removal have resulted in at least 65 deaths and more than 1,100 injured. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

"He's a hero," said Paolo Lena, a Caracas businessman who donated to Areaga a violin he had bought five years ago for his son. "He's putting forward his face for lots of people who are afraid to protest."

Violinist Wuilly Arteaga, 23, holds up a donated guitar as he gives a free concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Appearances by the 23-year-old at anti-government protests almost ended when he and his instrument were dragged to the ground by a national guardsman. Videos of Areaga crying over his broken violin spread on social media, garnering an outpouring of sympathy. People donated cash to have the instrument repaired, others gave him old violins and Colombian pop star Shakira signed her autograph on a violin dedicated to the virtuoso. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos) © The Associated Press Violinist Wuilly Arteaga, 23, holds up a donated guitar as he gives a free concert in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Appearances by the 23-year-old at anti-government protests almost ended when he and his instrument were dragged to the ground by a national guardsman. Videos of Areaga crying over his broken violin spread on social media, garnering an outpouring of sympathy. People donated cash to have the instrument repaired, others gave him old violins and Colombian pop star Shakira signed her autograph on a violin dedicated to the virtuoso. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

___

In this May 27, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela. “I know my music creates a climate of peace, which is why I’ll continue playing on the streets of Venezuela," said Arteaga. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) © The Associated Press In this May 27, 2017 photo, Wuilly Arteaga plays his violin during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela. “I know my music creates a climate of peace, which is why I’ll continue playing on the streets of Venezuela," said Arteaga. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Fabiola Sanchez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/fisanchezn

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