Venezuelan violinist Wuilly Arteaga saw a massive outpouring of support after his instrument was broken during protests.

A Venezuelan violinist whose instrument was damaged during anti-government protests is playing music on the streets once more, following a massive public outpouring of support. The 23-year-old violinist, Wuilly Arteaga, has been a fixture of his country’s anti-government protests, with videos of the musician played around the world. Sporting the colours of the Venezuelan flag, Arteaga’s playing at the front line of protests has been seen as a symbol of peaceful resistance in Venezuela, the instrumentalist seemingly unfazed by the canisters of tear gas exploding around him.

Video emerged earlier this week, however, of the Arteaga with his violin smashed, apparently broken by the National Guard.

“I was playing in the middle of the protest when National Guard vehicles approached us and one of the guards grabbed my violin by the strings,” Arteaga told local media, CNN reported. “I didn’t let go, and was dragged from the motorcycle through the whole street.”

“At some point, I let go of the violin, because I couldn’t [hold on] anymore,” he said. Another officer eventually returned the instrument. “I hugged him and ran away with the violin,” Arteaga said.

The footage of Arteaga and his broken violin, which went viral, triggered the hashtag #UnViolinParaElPana – which translates as “a violin for the buddy” – and a massive outpouring of support. According to a ‘thank you’ video the violinist posted on Twitter, many people have even offered to provide financial support. Arteaga said he would not accept donations, but intended to reply to the messages of support.

A pair of Cuban comedians, known as the Pichy Boys, offered a violin, even getting it signed by Columbian singer-songwriter Shakira (although it is unclear if this violin has reached Arteaga).

Arteaga was not without an instrument for long, however, soon tweeting a video in which a friend, Paolo Lena, and his son, presented him with a brand new instrument. “Thank you all!!!” Arteaga tweeted.

Since then, Arteaga has tweeted a video playing the new instrument. “Not only is it a violin that sounds,” he wrote, “it is now the real song of a whole country for Freedom! Resist Venezuela … Soon we will be free!”


Subscribe to Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine