Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela's violin protester shown outpouring of kindness

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Media captionViolinist Wuilly Arteaga playing the Venezuelan national anthem amid the protests earlier in May

Venezuelans have rallied online to help a violist who had his instrument broken during a protest.

Wuilly Arteaga has become a regular fixture at the country's street demonstrations, calmly playing classical tunes amid the chaos.

But on Wednesday evening, a video went viral, showing him in tears with a scuffed violin, its strings all broken, allegedly by police.

His growing fanbase has offered to raise funds for a new instrument.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A tearful Wuilly Arteaga with his broken violin on Wednesday

Mr Arteaga thanked his supporters with a video message on Twitter: "Even though I lost my phone in the protests, I have been receiving lots of messages via social networks."

He said he has not been involved in any of the fundraising activities, and has not accepted any donations, but he will start replying to people on Thursday.

Image copyright CHECK
Image caption He was pictured playing earlier on Wednesday, before the instrument was damaged

Earlier, the musician told local reporters his account of how the violin was broken.

"I was playing in the middle of the protest when the National Guards' motorcyclists came up and grabbed the violin by its strings," he said.

He said he refused to let go and fell down, hurting his leg, which is when it was pulled from his arms.

When he asked for it back, a member of the forces gave him the damaged instrument and Mr Arteaga said he hugged him.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption He has often been seen in the thick of the protests
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Here he is again, playing in Caracas, earlier this month

Mr Arteaga often dresses in full yellow, blue and red colours of the Venezuelan flag, and has become a symbol of the more peaceful approach to protesting, although he is often found playing in the front line.

Venezuela has seen almost daily anti-government protests since April and at least 55 people have been killed in protest-related violence.

The country's deepening economic and political crisis has led to triple-digit inflation, a high crime rate and clashes between protesters and security forces.

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