Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Venezuela: Kusturica's Visit Becomes Political

Acclaimed film director Emir Kusturica visited Caracas to close out the week of celebrations for the city with a concert by his No Smoking Orchestra. After seven years from his last visit, Kusturica's fans (myself included) gathered for the free concert that took place at one of the biggest parks in Caracas. In the end, Kusturica's visit became a political visit, which was especially demonstrated, when he attended conference at the Center for Latin American Studies (CELARG in Spanish) and congratulated the rebel spirit of Venezuelans who struggle against the Empire. In addition, he spoke in favor of the president and criticized the manipulating media. He made it sound as he was someone who seemed to know the country very well… even though he only stayed for a couple of days.

kus.jpg

Photo by Luis Carlos Díaz and used under a Creative Commons license.

All the activities that surrounded the Serbian artist's visit had a very kusturican atmosphere. After hours of waiting, disorganization, chaos and the belief from people that the political discourse had no place at the concert, the evening began controversy, ideaologies, political bands and a humiliated politician, but in the end, all the magic and music brought by the No Smoking Orchestra was what was important. Before and after the big event bloggers showed their views on the artists, who no doubt, left a mark on those who participated.

In his blog Lejos del Mundo y de Los Hombres Vanos [es], Gustavo remembers part of the concert and about the crowd's reaction to the town's mayor:

Luego (…) llegó el turno a El Pacto. (…) Esta gente, aunque suenan bien, bajaron un poco el ánimo del público. Sus letras anti imperialistas cargadas de política no calaron bien en la gente. Ojo, varios de los que estaban a mí alrededor se sabían las canciones, eso me dijo que esta gente tiene sus seguidores (…) Suenan bien y suenan duro. Particularmente no me gustó escuchar el discurso del presidente cantado en Rock. (…) Ya eran las doce de la noche (…) el Alcalde (…) se montó en la tarima (…) Apenas tomó el micrófono, comenzó el abucheo. No fueron todos los presentes, pero fueron suficientes para que se escuchara con claridad. Le gritaban a coro “fuera” “fuera” y le tiraban botellas de plástico (pocas pero lo hicieron) (…) el niño grande se molestó y dijo (no son sus palabras exactas): “la Alcaldía les trajo a Kusturica, ¿Quieren que me vaya? Porque si me voy, Kusturica no toca”.

After (…) it was the turn of the band El Pacto to play. These people sound good. Nevertheless their lyrics are full of political ideas and anti-imperialism, which didn't really fit in the public's mood. But, hey… many people around me knew the songs, which tells me that the band has fans. They sound good and hard, but I didn't really liked the President's speech sung backed by rock music (…) It was already midnight (…) and the Mayor appeared on stage (…) As soon as he grabbed the mic, the public started to boo. Not everybody did it, but the booers were enough to make themselves heard. The shouted “get out!” and threw plastic bottles (not very many, but they did) (…) The big boy got mad and said (I don't remember his exact words) “The Mayor's office brought Kusturica, do you want me to leave? ‘Cause if I go, Kusturica won't play!”

HAL 9000 of Reflexiones de Robot [es] provides more on the concert's incident and the double-edge sword of “free” culture:

En realidad la comunicación del evento fue bastante desastrosa… Un grupo importante de gente creía que comenzaba a las 2, otros que a las 4 y otros que a las 5… En realidad lo importante es que a las 7 y media de la noche todavía no habían comenzado… Un par de ¿animadores? Se subieron a la tarima a explicar que todo se debía a “problemas técnicos (…) La masa respondió con pitas, pero los animadores, tratando de hablar con un lenguaje callejero que les salía tan natural como una novela de RCTV o una película de Carlos Azpúrua, esgrimieron un argumento que les pareció genial para justificar la falta de organización… “Recuerden que es gratis”. ¿Gratis significa chaborreo y desorganización? ¿Gratis significa que puedo pautar a la gente a una hora y después comenzar el espectáculo cuando a mí me dé la gana? Y peor aún, ¿gratis significa que te la tienes que calar y no puedes protestar?”

To be honest, the logistics in the event was disastrous. Many people thought it started at 2 pm, others that it started at 4 pm and some others that it would be at 5 pm. What is important is that at half past 7 they had not yet started. A couple of hosts(?) appeared on stage and explained they were having some “technical problems.” The public responded with boos, but the hosts tried to reply with wit, and in a very unnatural slang, saying that the public should remember the concert was for free. Does “free” mean disorganization and mediocrity? Does “free” mean that I can tell people that they should come at one time and then start the show when I feel like it? Or even worse, does “free” mean that you have to swallow your words and keep the protest to yourself?”

Titus remarked some of Kusturica's ideas in Selva [es]

El cineasta y músico, agradeció la oportunidad de poder venir a Venezuela nuevamente y presentarse con su banda, y señaló que la visión de Caracas esta vez es distinta, que es una gran ciudad con edificios altos y hamburguesas pero que detrás de eso está la lucha de un pueblo (…) Para él aún existen los mismos problemas, tanto en Sarajevo como en Caracas, pero muchas veces los medios de comunicación masivos reflejan otra cosa. (…) muchas de las informaciones sobre la situación de Kosovo, fueron creadas por los Estados Unidos y repetidas constantemente alrededor del mundo para crear una falsa matriz de opinión.

“La gente empieza a creerlo, porque los medios hacen la verdad y la verdad es muy débil si no se sustenta en los medios. Una vez que has sido marcado como una persona mala es muy difícil luchar contra los medios. Cuando los medios te aprietan, no crees en nada más y al final de la historia, la gente que no conoce qué pasó en Kosovo, cree lo que ve en los medios. Y si no conoces el alma y corazón de Kosovo… pero ¿quién se interesa hoy por la cultura y la historia? Nosotros tenemos que encargarnos de eso, porque sin identidad sin nuestra cultura, no sobreviviremos.”

The movie maker and musician thanked the opportunity he was given to visit Caracas again and to be able to perform with his band. He noted that his vision of Caracas is different this time, that it's a city with high buildings and hamburgers but that behind everything there was the struggle of its people (…) In his opinion there are still the same problems, just as there are Sarajevo as in Caracas, but the media shows something else. Much news and information on Kosovo were created by the United States and repeated constantly around the world in order to create a false sense of opinion.

“The people start to believe, because the media tells the truth and truth is very weak if it is not supported by media. Once you've been marked as a bad person it is difficult to fight against the media. When the media tightens its screws, it is difficult to believe in anything else and at the end of the story; people that do not know what happened in Kosovo believe what they see in the media, even more if you don't know the soul and the heart of Kosovo. But who is interested in culture and history nowadays? We need to get on that, because without our identity, without our culture, we won't survive.”

Noticias 24 reports that in the concert that had taken place the day before, a shooting left two people dead. Nevertheless, the show went on and the Mayor's office did not cancel the festival. It seems that the deceased had charges against him and that others that were also wounded in the shooting went away when the confusion arose. In addition, blogger and Global Voices author Luis Carlos Díaz comments on Noticias 24 regarding the Mayor's incident and publishes a video and photos he took and at the concert.

Cuando el alcalde apareció para decir quién firmó los cheques la gente no paró de abuchearlo. ¿Lo impresionante? Que Barreto intentara chantajear al público diciendo que si no lo querían a él, entonces Kusturica no se montaba en el escenario. Y luego dijo “váyanse, pues, váyanse”. Las pitas no dejaron de aumentar y hasta botellas plásticas y papeles tiraron a la tarima, hasta que se fue. Y sí, el público era mayoritariamente pro-revolucionario. Pero con Barreto se gritó “fuera la política”, entre otras cosas.

When the Mayor appeared to say who paid the money (to bring Kustruica to Caracas) people did not stop booing him. What was impressive was that Barreto (Caracas mayor) tried to blackmail the public saying that if they did not want him, Kusturica wouldn't play. The he said: “go, go now…”. The boos kept growing and plastic bottles were even thrown to the stage, until he left. And yes, the public was mainly revolutionary. But with Barreto people started to yell “no politics!” among other things.

At the end, Kusturica's art triumphed over politics, contradictions or even disorder. People danced with the musical genius of the Non Smoking Orchestra, and Kumasi of Miniplug TV [es] sums it up:

Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra dieron el mejor show del año, dejaron montar a un gentío (…) y repitieron dos canciones al final, son lo máximo. – Todo terminó tranquilo y no hubo tiros ni nada fuera de lo normal.

Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra gave the show of the year! They let a lot of people get on stage (…) and they repeated two songs at the end. They're the best! – Everything ended quite normally. There were no shootings.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site