|Venezuelan heavy metaler Paul Gillman, apparently booted from this year's Rock al Parque.|
That political movement has fallen into severe disrepute in recent years, particularly in Colombia, as Venezuela has become more authoritarian, government forces have violated protesters' rights, and the country's economy has tailspun.
But through it all, Gillman, 57, has remained loyal to the Bolivarian Revolution (a bit reminiscent of the True Believers who kept their faith in Stalin's Soviet Union long after its horrific human rights abuses had become common knowledge), calling himself '100% revolutionary.'
|Brothers in revolution: Gillman with the late Hugo Chavez.|
Call Gillman ignorant, naive, stupid, or whatever - but he's part of a long tradition of artists, such as Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson, whose ideals blinded them to terrible realities. Seeger's and Robeson's musical talents don't get recalibrated because of their faith in the Soviet Union, so why should Gillman's Colombian fans be deprived of his music because he supports a rotten regime like Venezuela's?
|Rock al Parque 2017.|
Some justified booting Gillman for 'security' reasons. Could Gillman's performance really trigger violence? If that's the real concern, it would mean permitting a small, violent minority to decide what the rest of us can see and hear.
In a letter posted on the Internet, Gillman, who still plans to perform in Colombia at the end of May, called the decision to cancel his performance "unprecedented."
'In Rock al Parque's 23 years...there has never been a similar situation in which an artist with 40 years of experience has been removed for reasons completely removed from music,' he wrote.
He also told the El Tiempo newspaper that Rock al Parque "allowed itself to be carried away by one person's hate."
Paradoxically, as of May 13 Gillman was still listed among the festival's international invitees.
'Without a doubt, (Gillman) is one of the foundational figures of rock (in Venezuela) and across all out continent, and one of the most eagerly awaited in the festival's history.'
His fans will have to wait longer now.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours