Wuilly Arteaga has played his violin through weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela, his songs enduring even as he was forced to dodge tear gas canisters hurled in his direction. But on Wednesday, the music was silenced. Arteaga—often seen playing Venezuela's national anthem on the front lines—says his violin was broken by the National Guard during a skirmish, reports CNN. "I was playing in the middle of the protest when the National Guards' motorcyclists came up and grabbed the violin by its strings," the 23-year-old says, per the BBC. He adds he held on and was dragged down the street by the motorcycle before an officer finally wrestled the violin from his grasp.
His leg injured, Arteaga says he pleaded with the National Guard to return the violin and another officer eventually did. But Arteaga's reaction wasn't one of joy or relief. In a video, Arteaga—dressed as usual in the colors of the Venezuelan flag—is seen crying while holding a scuffed violin with its strings broken. Supporters have since reached out on social media with offers to buy him a new instrument, reports the BBC. It isn't clear when his music might return to the protests, but Arteaga previously told NPR, "There is no better time than now to be playing my music in the streets … This is the place we need it most, where we need music to have hope." Read more about the hellish situation in Venezuela here. (Read more Venezuela stories.)