SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A South Dakota man has been watching with great concern the political power struggle unfolding in his homeland. The battle for leadership in Venezuela has countries around the globe, including the United States, choosing sides But the crisis in Venezuela is much more personal for a Sioux Falls musician.
For William Cedeño, music is an international language that transcends borders.
“I don’t remember a time when music wasn’t all I could think and talk about all day,” Cedeño said
Cedeño learned to play the flute as a boy in Venezuela. He moved to the United States as a teenager to further his musical studies. Now, he’s the principle flutist with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.
“I get up in the morning and I’m constantly thinking about music, I practice, I do whatever I have to do, I go to rehearsals, I go to concerts,” Cedeño said.
But the political unrest in Venezuela has struck a sour note with Cedeño. Venezuelans have been upset over food and medicine shortages along with ongoing power outages and skyrocketing inflation. Tensions reached a boiling point earlier this year when opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president. Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro remains committed to holding onto power.
“They’re so desperate, they don’t care who comes in and helps them. For them, anyone can come in and take Maduro out and they’ll be grateful, because that’s how bad the situation is,” Cedeño said
Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country, including members of Cedeño own family. He still has an uncle living in Caracas.
“It’s not only like they can’t eat, but it’s like I can’t feed my family, I can’t work, I can’t go anywhere because the streets are not safe,” Cedeño said
The United States is supporting Guaidó. President Trump called the movement to oust Maduro a “righteous struggle for freedom.”
“The brutal repression of the Venezuelan people must end and it must end soon. People are starving. They have no food. They have no water. This was one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” Trump said on May 2.
The Trump administration has said that all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with Venezuela, including taking military action.
“Would I like Trump to get involved? Sure. I would like for everyone to get involved and help us. I don’t know if he will be doing everything the way we like and that would be the biggest issue, what kind of involvement are we talking about? We don’t want him to go in and wipe out the entire country,” Cedeño said
Cedeño hopes all sides can peacefully resolve the Venezuelan power struggle and restore calm in the streets. Cedeño says it’s far too dangerous for him to visit Venezuela anytime soon. But he hopes to someday return there, perhaps even perform in Venezuela, showcasing the musical talent that first emerged while he was growing up in his former homeland.
“The bottom line is that we just want change in our country, we just want Venezuela to at least have a future,” Cedeño said.
This summer, Cedeño plans to visit his family members who are now living in Chile.
Next week, he’ll be performing in a recital at Augustana University.