There were 24,000 murders in Venezuela last year. That’s 65 a day – an almost cartoonish level of violence.
It says something’s seriously wrong there, regardless of what benefits you think Hugo Chavez brought to the country’s poor before he died, or whether you support his successor, Nicolas Maduro.
The violence partly explains the ongoing demonstrations in Caracas, in which three students died earlier this month.
It also partly explains why the pianist Gabriela Montero spends a lot of her time recording protest versions of the country’s national anthem.
Gloria al Bravo Pueblo – Glory to the Brave People – is normally described as a Latin American version of the Marseillaise, a proud military march that spirals to a cymbal crashing ending.
But what Gabriela turns it into is something far more powerful and worth your time. Here’s just three of her takes on it.
In the first two, she makes the anthem sound like the song of a heart-broken lover, one who can barely hold their emotions together long enough to get to the end.
But in the third, she turns it into something altogether different: a fiery tango and a theme song for cacerolazos – those protests where everyone bangs pots and pans to wake up corrupt politicians. It is 100% fantastic.
Gabriela’s playing concerts in Germany, Italy, the UK, Serbia, Canada and the US in the next few weeks. Go along. Her full schedule’s here.