Media coverage of El Sistema sexual abuse allegations

There has been considerable media coverage of the sexual abuse allegations coming out of El Sistema. I wrote an article for Caracas Chronicles, and the site’s editors wrote a second one, available in both English and Spanish. There have been investigative reports in Clarín (Argentina), ABC (Spain), and BR-Klassik (Germany). The story has also been covered in other media outlets around the world, including several times on Slipped Disc. The July issue of the UK’s Music Teacher Magazine led with an editorial that called for collective action on this issue.

El Sistema issued a public statement in early June. A few international Sistema programs did the same, the first being Sistema England. Sistema Toronto’s was the most impressive. However, most Sistema-inspired programs remained silent, raising questions about the depth of the field’s commitment to social justice. El Sistema USA produced a belated whitewash statement that made no mention of El Sistema or sexual abuse. The response from the classical sector has been almost imperceptible, suggesting that #MeToo has not sunk very deep. El Sistema’s funders and famous boosters have kept very quiet. Gustavo Dudamel, who describes El Sistema as his “family,” has made no comment and expressed no sympathy or concern. It is hard not to feel a sense that while victims, their representatives, and human rights defenders are seeking to turn this story into a public issue in order to secure justice for past abuses and prevent future ones, many in and around the Sistema field are saying as little as possible and hoping for the matter to go away as quickly as possible.

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