A young Venezuelan made his violin an instrument of resistance. The government hit back.

From the Washington PostCARACAS, Venezuela — On the streets of this tense capital, protesters challenging government troops often throw rocks, bottles, even molotov cocktails. But Wuilly Arteaga battled riot police with the defiant strains of his violin.

A fixture in the front lines in recent months, playing on despite stinging volleys of tear gas, the 23-year-old became a symbol of the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian government. Videos of Arteaga concentrating on his music amid scenes of chaos quickly went viral, and were shared in Venezuela to boost morale among the protesters.

They also made him a target.

During a demonstration last month in eastern Caracas, as Arteaga played a song called “Soul of the Plains,” Maduro’s national guard swooped down on him. His story provides a window on the tactics of a government that has allegedly used intimidation, torture and propaganda to cement its power. …



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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.