Renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel has been a vocal critic of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Now the government has retaliated by canceling his planned US tour with Venezuela's National Youth Orchestra.
"My dream to play with these wonderful young musicians cannot come true - this time," 36-year-old conductor Gustavo Dudamel wrote Monday in a four-part tweet.
The Los Angeles-based Venezuelan native had planned a four-city September tour of the US with the government-backed Venezuelan National Youth Orchestra from Venezuela.
The cancellation from Caracas comes in the wake of Dudamel's public criticism of socialist President Nicolas Maduro in recent months as the political crisis in his home country heated up.
In April, the conductor warned that Venezuela risked a "fratricidal conflict" and called on the government to "listen to the people." He said in a video posted on Twitter that "immediate solutions are needed," and also spoke out in guest commentaries written for The New York Times and Spain's El Pais.
President Maduro lashed back at Dudamel, taking to television to slam him for spending so much time abroad. "Where do we live? In Venezuela and we have to work for the Venezuelans," he said.
While the South American country has been suffering its worst economic crisis ever, the opposition has accused Maduro of trying to rewrite the constitution and establish a dictatorship. Amidst the political turmoil, over 120 people have been killed in recent anti-government protests.
Gustavo Dudamel is currently music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and of Venezuela's Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra.
kbm/eg (AFP, dpa)