His only resort had been music, while his opponents fought with guns. It was just like another form of warfare! Sounds from both the sides have fallen silent for decades… however, some of his songs have returned to Chile as a weapon of protests through the next generation. Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez (September 28, 1932 – September 16, 1973) was a Lazarus of sorts, having his resurrection through millions of protesters singing his songs during an anti-Government rally on the streets of the Chilean capital of Santiago last week!
When the then Army Chief Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte was planning to capture power through a coup d’état, this Chilean Teacher, Theatre Director, Poet, Singer-Songwriter and Communist-cum-Political Activist was tortured and murdered. Victor’s wife, Joan, left the Latin American country with the gruesome memory of the murder at Chile Stadium on September 16, 1973. The Army personnel tortured him, smashing his hands and fingers, before mocking him by asking him to play the guitar. Soon after, he was killed with a gunshot to the head, and his body was riddled with 46 bullets…
Victor learnt music from Violeta Parra, a singer who had steered folk music in Chile away from the rote reproduction of rural materials toward modern song composition rooted in traditional forms, after they met in 1957. After becoming the President in 1970, Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens invited Victor to work for his Leftist Government. Pinochet’s Army was desperately trying to find Victor ahead of the coup. On the morning of September 12, 1973, Victor was taken prisoner, along with 5,000 people, and interned in Chile Stadium. The Army personnel easily identified the singer and started torturing him. Even after being brutally tortured, he tried to perform one of his songs. As those 5,000 people joined the chorus, the Army pumped bullets into Victor’s body!
Víctor & Joan
Pinochet’s Army might have destroyed Victor’s songs… fortunately, his wife Joan and some other people managed to leave the stadium with some of his records inside their garments. As Joan is from Britain, she translated Victor’s songs into English in order to spread them across the globe. The 92-year-old Joan, currently, stays in London.
Víctor’s grave in the General Cemetery of Santiago. The note reads: “Until victory…”
Victor had a God-gifted voice… his folk songs, as well as modern romantic songs, still mesmerise music-lovers. During the recent anti-Government rallies in different cities in Chile, protesters sang the song ‘Right to live in peace’, which Victor had written for the Vietnamese fighters! Whenever he prepared songs for pro-Democracy fighters, those were translated into different languages and inspired protesters in different countries. These people still continue Victor’s legacy, which would go on getting continued…
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