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The long wait: Venezuelan violinist and resistance symbol seeks political asylum in U.S.

“If he did, he’d go straight to prison.” An opposition demonstrator plays the violin during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, on May 24, 2017.Federico Parra / AFP - Getty Images During the height of Venezuela’s fierce anti-government protests in the Spring of 2017, Wuilly Arteaga, 24, a self-taught violinist, rose to international fame by calmly playing the violin in the midst of the violent chaos. “They would tell me I would be in prison for 30 years. He came to New York, where he plays the violin in subway stations. Arteaga applied for political asylum. In the U.S., the amount of Venezuelans seeking asylum has soared in the past couple of years: In 2015 Venezuelans filed 5,605 applications; by 2017, the number rose to 27,629. Venezuelans now request asylum far more than citizens from any other country. Because the overall amount of asylum requests in the U.S. has soared from 25,500 in fiscal year 2008 to over 106,000 in fiscal year 2018, the backlog can be years long. In Venezuela, political detentions, like that of Arteaga, have become rampant. Arteaga has been sending money to his parents, who live in humble conditions in the Venezuelan city of Valencia. “If he did, he’d go straight to prison.” It’s a stressful situation for Arteaga, waiting to find out if his asylum petition is approved.