Saturday, August 23, 2008

víctor jara: new song

augusto pinochet's junta, 1973.

I did not even know of Víctor Jara's existence until comparatively recently, therefore I make no claim to have anything remotely authoritative to say concerning this Chilean radical and songwriter; the populist champion of the Chilean "New Song" movement and outspoken campaigner for the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende.

Víctor Jara: september
28th, 1932 - september 15th, 1973.
"Jara died at the hands of the military police approximately one week after the September 11th, 1973 coup. He was taken from the Universidad Tecnica (...damaged heavily by the military and later replaced by the current Universidad de Santiago de Chile) where he worked as a professor and taken with other university colleagues to the Estadio Chile, where he was held for several days with 5,000 other "subversives".
Following the US sponsored military coup of Augusto Pinochet - whom British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher conspired with decades later to evade his deportation back to South America to face criminal charges - Jara was 'disappeared' to Santiago Stadium where he was tortured and dispatched. As punishment for his use of popular music as a medium to propogate socialist polemic, his hands were first broken.

His body was removed and tossed onto the streets in public view for maximum effect.

"requiem for víctor jara"
by wolfgang mattheuer, 1973.

Between the late 60's and his death in 1973, Jara was celebrated in radical circles throughout the world as champion of the left and spokesperson for the people. Much of his music was distributed through the Odeón label, a subsidiary of EMI International.

In 1973 / 1974 I was introduced to the son of a couple who'd escaped Pinochet's regime and temporarily settled nearby, close to my parents' house on the street where we lived. A year or two younger than me, the age gap back then was too great for us to get on comfortably as friends. I do remember thinking that his mother was stunningly beautiful. Such was my grasp of Chile's political struggle.

The following song is probably one of his least overtly political, and was the b-side to a sizeable 'hit' in 1969.

It seems curiously bizarre in hindsight to contrast the glam rock 'revolution' in Britain with death squads on the prowl in a football stadium during the 1974 World Cup preliminaries, but Víctor Jara is testimony to the vital role music is capable of occupying in the transmission of ideals as catalyst to bring about social upheaval or crystallize resistance. An iconic talent on a par with Che Guevara, by dint of song alone.

VICTOR JARA: TE RECUERDO AMANDA from "Plegaria A Un Labrador b/w Te Recuerdo Amanda" 45 (Jota Jota) 1969 (Chile)



Löst Jimmy said...

This is a wonderful post ib, during my time in Latin American working I encounted many who had fled the Pinochet horror.

ib said...

Thank you, Löst Jimmy.

I'm intrigued. I don't mean that to sound flippant. I only discovered Victor Jara very recently; what were you doing in Latin America ?

Hats Off to you for having the courage of your convictions to elect to go there.

Löst Jimmy said...

Voluntary work in Cuba, Mexico and Guatemala at various times - a Brigadista you might say. I spent some time with the Zapatistas in 2001.

ib said...

I'm impressed.

Löst Jimmy said...

nothing impressive ib really but it was a chance to see the world in a different light, a very different light

ib said...

Nonetheless, I am impressed; as an individual I lack the selflessness and clarity of purpose to even consider venturing that far.

I just this minute got a powerful flash of deja vu...

I was reading today about the escalating violence in Mexico as the result of police corruption and conniving with the drug cartels.

Löst Jimmy said...

Mexico is truly a most beautiful, most wonderful place but also one of the scariest.

ib said...

I can easily believe it.

I've long wanted to visit Cuba, but even if were able to afford it - which is not on the cards - I would feel uncomfortable as a tourist when all around people live in poverty. It's ironic, too, that the situation in Mexico is only now beginning to receive media coverage because tourists are no longer immune.

ib said...

Löst Jimmy, have you checked out Loronix for Brazillian sounds ? I think you would like it.

zoltan alvarez said...

thank you very much for remembering Victor Jara, he is truly an inspirational icon, not only for his progresive views but for his love and appreciation of life and peace.

As a Chilean myself, i am very proud that we had such an amazing person grace our country, tragically his life was cut short due to the dark hand of fascism.

Viva Victor, Viva los Trabajadores, Viva el Pueblo !

ib said...

Thank you for the comment, Zoltan. It is good to know we are reaching each other.

Viva el Pueblo !

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