(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin released the following statement in response to reports that the Bolivarian National Guard arrested Venezuelan activist Wuilly Arteaga on July 27, 2017:

“I am horrified and dismayed to learn of the Bolivarian National Guard’s arrest of Wuilly Arteaga, a celebrated young leader in the movement for justice and peace in Venezuela. The Venezuelan authorities should know America is watching the situation carefully. 

“From the chaos of growing authoritarianism in his country, Wuilly rose to prominence as a violinist with heart and soul. He became famous for playing the Venezuelan national anthem on his violin during street protests. He is an alumnus of El Sistema, a state-run music program founded in the 1970s that has trained hundreds of thousands of classical Latin American musicians. He is also a member of La Resistencia, the youth-led movement against authoritarianism and repression in his country. Wuilly has lost friends to state violence but still plays undaunted for justice and peace.

“The twenty-three-year old was arrested yesterday afternoon, along with fellow musician Goan Marco Cetorame, while playing his violin during a protest in the streets of Caracas. Five days prior to his arrest, Wuilly was hospitalized for injuries sustained while playing his violin during another Caracas street protest.

“Just last month, Wuilly visited my congressional office to discuss his life journey. I was honored to hear his beautiful music. I am incensed by this violence against Wuilly, who was exercising his basic human rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. Those who wish to silence the voices of these activists will be drowned out by the music of democracy.

“I urge Wuilly and Goan’s immediate and peaceful release by the Bolivarian National Guard and an end to President Maduro’s outrageous assaults on his own countrymen. The whole world is watching.”

Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration.